Judge Who Authorized NSA Surveillance Once Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional

A federal judge who signed a court order compelling Verizon to turn call logs over to the National Security Agency made headlines two years ago when he invoked the language of the tea party to declare Obamacare unconstitutional.

Judge Roger Vinson’s signature appeared on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order issued in April that was publicized by The Guardian on Wednesday. 

Vinson declared in a Florida federal court in 2011 that the individual mandate element of the Affordable Care Act violated the constitution, and thus the whole health care law must be struck down.

Legal scholars who disagreed with Vinson’s ruling on ACA saw echoes of the Tea Party movement in the judge’s language. One law professor told the New York Times that Vinson’s opinion in the case gave the impression that it “was written in part as a Tea Party manifesto.”

“It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place,” Vinson wrote in his opinion, as quoted in the Times article.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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