When judicial rulings were first coming out on President Obama's health care reform law in late 2010 and early 2011, the media covered the developments exuberantly (The Atlantic Wire, for its part, rounded up the flood of opinions and noted that rulings striking down health care reform were receiving more coverage than those upholding the law). But with 30 health care reform-related lawsuits swirling about the country and a broad consensus that the law's constitutionality will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court, the topic's lost some of its excitement of late. Today, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that the requirement in the national health-care overhaul law that individuals buy health insurance--the so-called "individual mandate"-- is unconstitutional. The news was greeted with headlines like Another Health Ruling and little debate.
That's not to say people are pulling out insights from the ruling. Politico's Ben Smith notes that the decision "continues the nearly perfect streak of judges ruling on partisan lines" (the Pennsylvania judge, Christopher Conner, was appointed by President Bush). The Hill's Sam Baker adds that Conner "carved out a new approach to the question of severability --whether the rest of the law can be left intact if the coverage mandate is unconstitutional. He's the only judge, at either level, to strike the mandate, as well as a select few other provisions. When other courts have found the mandate unconstitutional, they've either struck it down on its own or invalidated the entire healthcare law."