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Lawmakers sound off on health-care ruling

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a key part of the health-care reform bill signed into law earlier this year is unconstitutional because Congress can’t require people to buy health insurance.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had brought this case as soon as President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March, and told the Washington Post today that today’s ruling “won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.”

As you’d expect, the Bay Area’s Congressional delegation – most of which solidly supported the Affordable Care Act – isn’t happy with the ruling.

“Today’s ruling is the exception among more than dozen court cases decided that have questioned any provision of the Affordable Care Act. In every other case, both Republican and Democratic appointed judges have ruled that the law is constitutional and that Congress did not exceed its authority,” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, said in a news release.

“It is clear that opponents of this historic law are working overtime to take affordable health care away from our nation’s families and put insurance companies back in control,” he said. “But just as challenges against Social Security and Civil Rights Act failed, I am confident that the law to guarantee that all Americans have access quality and affordable care will stand up to the legal attacks from special interests.”

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was – as usual – even blunter.

“Apparently Republicans are now for judicial activism after they were against it,” Stark said. “Unfortunately, we already know what happens if this lawsuit succeeds. Millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, premiums will go up for working families, and more people will be forced into bankruptcy when they get sick.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.