Obama Administration Appeals Judge's Ruling Striking Down Health-Care Law

The U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing that it will appeal a federal judge’s Jan. 31 ruling striking down President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation.

Federal lawyers filed a notice of appeal with U.S. District Judge C. Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Florida. Their submission yesterday came two days before a deadline imposed by the judge last week, when he put on hold enforcement of his ruling.

In January, Vinson became the second federal judge to find unconstitutional a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring almost every person in the U.S. to obtain insurance coverage starting in 2014.

“The sooner this issue is finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the better off our entire nation will be,” Vinson said in a March 3 ruling responding to a U.S. request he clarify the scope of his earlier decision.

Obama signed the legislation on March 23, 2010. That same day, lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the measure were filed by the attorneys general of Florida and Virginia.

The Florida case, begun by then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, was joined by 25 other states.

Vinson found Congress exceeded its legislative powers by requiring individuals to procure insurance coverage. Holding that that provision couldn’t be separated from the rest of the act, he declared the entire measure invalid.

Clarification Request

While attorneys general for the plaintiff states disagreed whether Vinson’s ruling meant portions of the law already enacted were now unenforceable, the U.S. asked the judge to clarify his ruling.

Vinson, in halting enforcement of his decision, also directed the U.S. to seek expedited review of the ruling. The Obama administration’s challenge will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

The case is State of Florida v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10-cv-00091, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net

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