A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit against the new health care law brought by 20 states led by Florida can go forward.
In a 65-page ruling, the judge rejected the Obama administration's attempt to have the suit thrown out, arguing that the states had a "plausible claim" to challenge the law's constitutionality.
While U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson dismissed some of the states' claims, he sided with them when it came to the central challenge to the law -- that forcing individuals to purchase health insurance exceeds the government's authority under the Commerce Clause.
Like a similar ruling in Virginia in August, Vinson's decision will only mean that the case gets to continue because the plaintiffs have legitimate standing. Future court decisions will address the merits of the underlying arguments.
Nonetheless, the decision provides a boost to opponents of the national health care law, and a blow to the administration.
"In denying the government's motion to dismiss the challenge to the individual health insurance mandate, Judge Vinson ruled that ‘the plaintiffs have most definitely stated a plausible claim with respect to this cause of action,'" Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett said in a statement. "This decision now joins District Judge Henry Hudson's ruling in Virgina refusing to dismiss the challenge to the individual mandate. In both Virginia and Florida we now move to a decision on the merits. Given how well both judges understood the constitutional novelty of imposing economic mandates on the people, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that they will find the individual insurance mandate to be unconstitutional. But, however the district courts rule on this case, their reception of the arguments made by the state attorneys general foretell that the ultimate decision will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court."
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