Times Online Underwhelmed By Ruling Obama-Care Is Unconstitutional

On Tuesday's front page, health-care reporter Kevin Sack downplayed the import of Florida district court Judge Roger Vinson's decision to join governors and attorneys general in 26 states in opposing Obama-care: "Second Judge Deals Blow to Health Care Law." The original online headline (running across the top of the link) is dismissive, making the ruling sound like a tying run in the 5th inning as opposed to a possible walk-off home run: "Ruling Against Health Care Law Evens Scorecard at 2-2."

But as Sack himself indirectly noted, Vinson determination that the health-care act's "unconstitutionality required the invalidation of the entire law," not just the individual insurance mandate, is a significant blow to the administration going forward.

A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that required Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at 2 to 2 in the lower courts as conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.

But unlike a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., concluded that the insurance requirement was so "inextricably bound" to other provisions of the Affordable Care Act that its unconstitutionality required the invalidation of the entire law.

"The act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker," Judge Vinson wrote.

The judge declined to immediately enjoin, or suspend, the law pending appeals, a process that could last two years. But he wrote that the federal government should adhere to his declaratory judgment as the functional equivalent of an injunction. That left confusion about how the ruling might be interpreted in the 26 states that are parties to the legal challenge.

This morning's Washington Post was more direct in its assertion than Sack:

A federal judge in Florida on Monday became the first to strike down the entire law that overhauled the nation's health-care system, potentially complicating implementation of the statute in the 26 states that brought the suit.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson represents a more sweeping repudiation of the law than the December ruling in a suit brought by Virginia that found the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance to be unconstitutional.