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U.S. judge rejects key part of Obama healthcare law

December 13, 2010|By Michael Memoli, Los Angeles Times

A federal judge in Virginia has found a key provision of the healthcare law unconstitutional, the first such ruling on President Obama's landmark reform.

Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District Court in Richmond, appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled that the law's mandate that all Americans have a minimum level of coverage, or pay a fine if they do not, exceeds federal authority.

Virginia's Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, challenged the law by rejecting the federal government's view that the mandate is enforceable under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The state was seeking an injunction against the entire healthcare act if the mandate was found unconstitutional.

Virginia has passed a law stating that residents cannot be ordered to buy insurance.

A federal judge in Florida ruled in October that a separate suit challenging the law brought by 20 states and the National Federation of Interdependent Business could move forward. A Michigan judge dismissed a third suit earlier that month.

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