Judge Shows Sympathy With Lawsuit Challenging Entire Reform Law, Expects to Rule by End of Year

Expressing sympathy for a lawsuit seeking to nullify the entire healthcare reform law, a federal judge said he would rule on it before the end of the year and expected it to go to the Supreme Court, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The suit, filed in Virginia, is one of 20 filed challenging the law, focusing on the mandate to buy health insurance, and the third to gain a preliminary hearing.

The Virginia-based judge showed sympathy with the contention that the mandate amounts to regulation of "inactivity," a power Congress lacks. Granting Congress such power could open the door for federal requirements that residents to buy a car, join a gym or "eat asparagus," he said. The administration responded that "the appearance of inactivity is just an illusion" because almost all Americans end up getting medical care.

The judge also noted President Obama denied the law's fee for not buying health insurance mandate was a tax. He also seemed to show some sympathy to the suit's contention that different parts of the law are interrelated and therefore the law should be struck down completely.

In previous actions, a federal judge in Michigan dismissed one of the lawsuits, ruling the coverage mandate is constitutional, but a federal judge in Florida cleared the way for another lawsuit, noting "the power that the individual mandate seeks to harness is simply without prior precedent," and must be scrutinized by federal courts.

The Journal said most legal experts think the administration will ultimately prevail, but they are not sure, and if the judge sides with the plaintiffs, at the least "it could throw a wrench in the law's early implementation."

Read the Wall Street Journal report on healthcare reform.

Read more coverage on lawsuits against the reform law:

- Judge Upholds Mandate to Buy Health Insurance

- Federal Judge Clears Way for Challenge to Reform Law, Focusing on Coverage Mandate

- Judge Agrees to Hear 20-State Lawsuit Against Health Reform

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