PENSACOLA, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that President Barack Obama’s entire health care overhaul law is unconstitutional, placing even noncontroversial provisions under a cloud in a broad challenge that seems certain to be resolved only by the Supreme Court.
Faced with a major legal setback, the White House called the ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson – in a challenge to the law by 26 of the nation’s 50 states – “a plain case of judicial overreaching.” That echoed language the judge had used to describe the law as an example of Congress overstepping its authority.
The Florida judge’s ruling produced an even split in federal court decisions so far on the health care law, mirroring enduring divisions among the public. Two judges had previously upheld the law, both Democratic appointees. A Republican appointee in Virginia had ruled against it.
The Justice Department quickly announced it would appeal, and administration officials declared that for now the federal government and the states would proceed without interruption to carry out the law. It seemed evident that only the U.S. Supreme Court could deliver a final verdict on Obama’s historic expansion of health insurance coverage.