We previously reported on Tuesday that the Sixth Circuit may be the first Circuit to weigh in on the constitutionality of the new health care law after Judge George Steeh of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upheld the mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance under the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148. See Thomas More Law Center, et al. v. Obama (E.D. Mich., Case No. 10-CV-11156) (PDF). We also highlighted how some legal commentators have observed that opponents of the new health care statute have a better chance of prevailing in other major suits pending in Virginia and Florida than in the Sixth Circuit.
Sure enough, Judge Roger Vinson, a senior federal district court judge for the Northern District of Florida, yesterday refused to dismiss the Florida action brought by 20 states, two private citizens, and the National Federation of Independent Business alleging that the new health care statute is unconstitutional. See State of Florida, et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services, et al. (N.D. Fla., Case No. 3:10-cv-91) (PDF). Although Judge Vinson did not decide on the constitutionality of the mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance (unlike Judge Steeh, who ruled that the federal government did not exceed its authority under the Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) by imposing the individual mandate), Judge Vinson clearly struck a negative tone about the mandate’s constitutionality. News outlets are noting that Judge Vinson’s ruling “practically guarantees an eventual showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
We agree. And the road to the Supreme Court may well go through the Sixth Circuit.