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Though there have been several others, the challenge to the law brought by the 20 states is the most expansive.

In federal court in Virginia, the state separately is challenging the law on the basis it conflicts with a state law passed by the general assembly earlier this year that says people in Virginia cannot be forced to purchase health insurance.

Last week, a federal judge in Michigan dismissed portions of a lawsuit brought by the conservative Thomas More Law Center that argued Congress exceeded its authority by forcing people to buy health insurance.

Ms. Schmaler, referred to the Michigan ruling in a statement released Thursday, saying “the only court that has decided the constitutionality of this law has sustained it and found that the minimum coverage provision was a reasonable step for Congress to take in reforming the nation’s health care system.”

But Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said Judge Vinson’s ruling moved those challenging the law “one step closer” to having it overturned. The NFIB is a party in the case.

“NFIB is pleased Judge Vinson ruled in favor of allowing our case to move forward. It is critical to small business owners and all Americans for the court to weigh in on the important constitutional questions at the heart of our lawsuit over the individual mandate,” Ms. Harned said.

“Judge Vinson correctly recognized that the individual mandate, which forces all Americans to purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not gives the federal government an unprecedented amount of power over our individual lives,” she said.

In a footnote, Judge Vinson quotes from Lewis Carroll’s classic “Through the Looking-Glass:”

c “When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more or less. The question is, said Alice, whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Along with Florida, the other states involved in the case are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.