by Rick Flagg
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- A federal judge in North Florida said the national health care law, which would force residents to buy insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional.
The 78-page ruling from Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola was welcome news for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office took the lead in the lawsuit.
"We all know we need health care reform. This is not the way to do it," Bondi said. "It's unconstitutional. It's a violation of our rights. It's about our liberty. It's about more than health care and that's what the judge said."
Bondi is calling on the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the house and repeal "ObamaCare."
"The repeal that was passed in the U.S. House, that simply was not symbolic," she said. "The Senate needs to listen to what this judge just said. The Senate needs to listen to 28 states who have joined in this lawsuit, as well as 33 governors. They need to listen to this country."
GOP leaders in Florida are lining up to praise the decision.
"I applaud the ruling today by Judge Vinson. In making his ruling, the judge has confirmed what many of us knew from the start -- ObamaCare is an unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on the liberty of the American people," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement released by his press office. "Patients should have more control over health care decisions than a federal government that is spending money faster than it can be printed."
"[This is] the most significant ruling to date in the legal challenges to ObamaCare," Florida Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) said. "Judge Vinson's decision upholds the principles of our Founding Fathers by ensuring that our individual liberties are protected."
But Florida democrats have said this battle is not over yet. The case will be appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Out of concern for thousands of uninsured Floridians, I am deeply disappointed by today's federal court ruling, but I remain confident that federal appeals courts will ultimately uphold the major tenets of the Affordable Care Act," said Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville), the ranking democrat on the House Health and Human Services Committee in the Florida Legislature.