Judge Rules ObamaCare Mandate Unconstitutional, LA Times Waits 12 Paragraphs Before Quoting His Rationale

Earlier today, a federal district judge in the 4th Circuit found the individual mandate section of the ObamaCare law unconstitutional.

Tribune Newspapers Washington bureau writers Noam N. Levey and David G. Savage wrote up the 19-paragraph story, which I accessed at LATimes.com.

Levey and Savage waited until the 12th and 13th paragraphs to actually quote U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson:

Hudson was unequivocal in his 42-page decision.


"Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause power to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market," the judge concluded.


He added: "Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative healthcare regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds."

Earlier in the article, Levey and Savage portrayed the ruling as a blow to health care reform as a policy goal (emphasis mine):

The requirement is seen as critical by most health policy experts because it would spread risk more broadly, controlling insurance premiums for everyone and allowing federal government to prohibit insurers from denying coverage to higher-risk Americans with preexisting medical conditions.


Without a mandate, Americans would be able to buy insurance only when they got sick, driving up premiums, a phenomenon that has occurred in several states that have guaranteed coverage without any requirement.

Levey and Savage then noted the Obama administration's legal argument (emphasis mine)

Obama administration lawyers have defended the mandate as permissible under what is known as the Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate economic activity.

Of course, Levey and Savage failed to quote the actual 16-word "commerce clause" from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which simply states that Congress has the power "[t]o regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."

One imagines the average reader would have a difficult time discerning in that clause a congressional power to force Americans to buy a good or service under penalty of law. 

Indeed, it's federal case law writtenly by judicial activist courts, not the text of the commerce clause itself, that has given Congress near carte blanche on commerce clause grounds.

Yet even there the Supreme Court in the past 15 years or so has drawn outer limits on abuse of the commerce clause such as U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000).

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters