Update: Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post describes how the left was unprepared for the ruling, and may have dug their own grave (so to speak), by leaving out a severability clause from the legislation:
Liberals are particularly perturbed by Judge Vinson’s ruling on severability, the determination as to whether the individual mandate is so central to the law as to make the law unrecognizable and unenforceable without it. But here, the left has only the administration and the Democratic Congress to blame. From the opinion (the defendants are the Obama officials):
Having determined that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, and cannot be saved by application of the Necessary and Proper Clause, the next question is whether it is severable from the remainder of the Act. In considering this issue, I note that the defendants have acknowledged that the individual mandate and the Act’s health insurance reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community rating, will rise or fall together as these reforms “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate].”
Oops. Not some crazy judge, but the administration was the source of the notion that the individual mandate can’t be severed from the rest of the law.
See the rest of her article here
Update: Here’s one of the key passages from Vinson’s decision:
It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended. See id. at 592
From David Weigel at Slate:
The decision is out now, and Judge Roger Vinson has basically struck down the entire health care bill. I’ll post the decision when I get it.
The money graf, in which Vinson strikes down the entire law — which, because of the mess in the Senate and House, lacked severability:
Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications. At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
There’s a link to Judge Vinson’s decision at Slate. I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear of this.