ADDED: I'm reading the opinion. Judge Roger Vinson rejects the argument that the individual mandate is actually a tax and therefore that the Anti-Injunction Act is an obstacle to the lawsuit. Key point:
[I]t is inarguably clear that Congress did not intend for the exaction to be regarded as a tax...Congress didn't call it a tax and "the defendants are wrong to contend that what Congress called it 'doesn’t matter.'"
Congress did not state that it was acting under its taxing authority, and, in fact, it treated the penalty differently than traditional taxes.The failure to call it a tax was especially important because the act was so controversial:
One could reasonably infer that Congress proceeded as it did specifically because it did not want the penalty to be “scrutinized” as a $4 billion annual tax increase, and it did not want at that time to be “held accountable for taxes that they imposed.” In other words, to the extent that the defendants are correct and the penalty was intended to be a tax, it seems likely that the members of Congress merely called it a penalty and did not describe it as revenue-generating to try and insulate themselves from the potential electoral ramifications of their votes.Because it is a penalty and not a tax, the act cannot be upheld with the taxing power. The question must be the scope of the Commerce Power.
AND: Judge Vinson upheld the standing of the individual plaintiffs and the state plaintiffs, and he held that the claims were ripe. Even though the mandate doesn't go into effect until 2014, it is "certainly impending" and "responsible individuals, businesses, and states will have to start making plans now or very shortly to comply with the Act’s various mandates."
Finally, the judge considered the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. He dismissed some of the claims relating to state sovereignty, and I won't bore you by attempting to paraphrase this part. If you don't know the law in this area, you'd be better off trying to read pages 41-58 of the opinion. So let me confine myself to the individual mandate. Judge Vinson rejects the due process argument, because the scrutiny in this area is minimal and Congress had a rational basis for the mandate. But the Commerce Clause challenge survived.
At this stage in the litigation, this is not even a close call. I have read and am familiar with all the pertinent Commerce Clause cases... This case law is instructive, but ultimately inconclusive because the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause have never been applied in such a manner before.... There are several obvious ways in which Heart of Atlanta and Wickard differ markedly from this case... Those cases... involved activities in which the plaintiffs had chosen to engage. All Congress was doing was saying that if you choose to engage in the activity of operating a motel or growing wheat, you are engaging in interstate commerce and subject to federal authority....
... The individual mandate applies across the board. People have no choice and there is no way to avoid it. Those who fall under the individual mandate either comply with it, or they are penalized. It is not based on an activity that they make the choice to undertake. Rather, it is based solely on citizenship and on being alive....