Health-Care Law Judges Taking Party Lines

Henry Hudson

US District Judge Henry Hudson,  Anonymous/Judge Henry Hudson hide caption

itoggle caption Anonymous/Judge Henry Hudson

Scott Hensley, who writes NPR's Shots blog, explains why U.S. District Judge's Henry Hudson's ruling Monday that the individual-mandate provision of the health-care overhaul law is unconstitutional both matters and doesn't.

He's the first federal judge to rule that an aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, so that makes it notable.

But the matter more than likely will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to experts. So we're far from the decisive moment.

As Scott notes, Hudson all indications beforehand were that Hudson would render a negative decision in the case brought by Virginia's Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

And as legal expert Stuart Taylor pointed out recently, Hudson's decision, which Taylor anticipated, falls into the pattern of partisan judicial decisions on health care, with judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents voting along party lines, respectively.

Hudson was appointed by former President George W. Bush. Two other federal judges who ruled for the law were appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

It just continues the long American tradition, going back to the start of the Republic when pro-Federalist judges threw the book at their political adversaries, through Bush v Gore up till now. Judging, like war, can often be politics by other means.

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