In a big win for the Obama Administration, a second Clinton-appointed federal judge ruled today that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, asserting that the individual mandate falls under federal authority granted by the Commerce Clause. The lawsuit, brought by Liberty University, also argued that the ACA violates the First Amendment because of its abortion provisions. (The law expressly says federal funds may not be used to fund abortions, but pro-life advocates claim this is a farce.) Judge Norman K. Moon disagreed. Here’s his entire ruling.
The main thrust of the case is similar to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli’s lawsuit challenging the law. While that case and a multi-state lawsuit in Florida are ongoing, today’s ruling adds much credence to Administration contentions that the ACA is constitutional. (A federal judge in Michigcan already reached the same conclusion.) The White House responded to today’s ruling with a celebratory blog post. In a statement, the Justice Department said:
“We welcome this decision and will continue to vigorously defend this the health care reform statute in litigation challenging it. We are confident that this statute is constitutional and that we will prevail.”
There are signs that the judge overseeing the other Cucinelli suit could rule another way, as could the judge looking at the Florida case. This isn’t over.