Today, a Virginia federal district court judge ruled the individual mandate provision of the Obama health care law unconstitutional. The decision bodes well for Texas' own lawsuit against the law, said Attorney General Greg Abbott.
"This is a huge victory for Americans who feel that Congress overstepped its authority by passing Obamacare, a huge victory for Americans who believe in limited government and limitations on Congress, and a huge victory for the future of the Texas legal challenge to Obamacare," Abbott said in a phone interview.
Texas, joining with 20 other states, filed a similar action in a Florida federal district court after the act passed in March. The state's suit is one of 24 across the country that take aim at the law. So far, two other district court judges have reached decisions in the suits. They both upheld it. But Abbott said the Virginia ruling is different, because it was the first to take up the challenge of a state to the health care law.
"We believe the legal analysis applied by the judge in the Virginia case will be similar to the legal analysis applied by the judge in the Texas case," Abbott said.
The Virginia judge, while holding the law unconstitutional, did not block its application pending appeal. That means it will continue to go into effect while the parties litigate the case up to the U.S. Supreme Court, a process that could take another two years. Abbott said his office expects a decision in the Texas suit in January or February of next year.
Update: Gov. Rick Perry issued the following statement about the ruling:
Today’s court decision on the federal health care bill is promising news for Texans and all Americans, who have had enough of the ongoing federal intrusion into their lives, and who reject this one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with health care. The federal government’s attempt to force every American to buy government-approved health insurance is an egregious violation of our Constitutional rights. The 10th Amendment and individual liberties must be protected, and I am committed to fighting the overreach of Obamacare and challenging these unconstitutional mandates, which have gone far beyond both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.