A federal judge's ruling that a key provision of President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law is unconstitutional moves the mandate that Americans buy insurance coverage one step closer to a Supreme Court showdown.
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, a Republican appointee serving the Eastern District of Virginia, said that Congress had exceeded its constitutional power when it imposed the health insurance requirement.
"Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative healthcare regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds," Hudson wrote.
The insurance mandate -- which would compel even healthy young Americans to obtain coverage or pay a penalty -- is considered key to the plan's financial feasibility.
Should the courts ultimately reject the mandate, it would be "very difficult if not impossible" for the rest of the overhaul to work, said a senior administration official, whom the White House allowed to speak to reporters only on the condition of anonymity.
Obama spent an entire year assuring everyone that his healthcare reform would save money, and would not require or impose any new taxes.
Ironically, the Obama administration now attempts to counter all arguments that the insurance mandate is an unconstitutional penalty by arguing that it is in fact . . . a new tax!