Commentary: Court that matters hasn't ruled on health care

The Idaho StatesmanDecember 16, 2010 

Virginia-based federal judge Henry Hudson has one tangential Idaho connection. As The Associated Press pointed out in a profile this week, Hudson was head of the U.S. Marshals Service during the fatal 1992 siege at North Idaho’s Ruby Ridge.

On Monday, Hudson became a hero to conservatives in Idaho and elsewhere when he rejected a key tenet of health care reform: the “individual mandate” requiring Americans to purchase health insurance.

While saying the debate still has a long way to go, Gov. Butch Otter called the ruling a “great and appropriate precedent.” A fellow Republican, 1st District Rep.-elect Raul Labrador, hailed it as “a great victory for all Americans and our Constitution.”

Let’s keep context. Critics have been quick to point out that Hudson is a George W. Bush appointee with conservative ties. Federal judges in two other states have upheld health care reform. Today, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida will hold court, as he hears arguments in the health care lawsuit filed by 20 states, and advocated by Otter, Labrador and a who’s who of Idaho Republicans. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the last word on the constitutional question surrounding the individual mandate.

Meanwhile, the debate will start anew in Congress, replete with plenty of overstated bluster about repeal.

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