Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson, the judge who a month ago ruled Obamacare unconstitutional, today clarified his ruling at the government’s request:
The Obama administration got a well-deserved rebuke today from Judge Roger Vinson in the Florida lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare (aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as big government types insist). Judge Vinson issued a new order in response to a bizarre and obtuse “motion to clarify” that the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed on February 17.
Vinson’s original order on January 31 could not have been clearer: He declared the entire law unconstitutional and specifically said that because he presumed that officials of the executive branch would adhere to the law as declared by a court, his declaratory judgment striking the law down was the functional equivalent of an injunction. Judge Vinson wrote then that he presumed that the executive branch would follow his order, which any lawyer (including a lawyer President) would know requires them to cease implementing Obamacare with respect to the 26 states that are plaintiffs and the National Federation of Independent Business. That turned out to be a faulty presumption, indeed.
After waiting more than two weeks, the Obama Administration filed an insulting motion that essentially said that the federal government would not comply with the judgment unless Judge Vinson issued another order “clarifying” that he really meant what he said – that the executive branch was enjoined from implementing this unconstitutional law. This was a political motion, not a legal motion that any serious litigator would file. In fact, Judge Vinson said that if the government was really unable to understand his original order, “[i]t was not expected that they would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two and one-half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then filed a belated motion to ‘clarify.’”
In short, Judge Vinson just told the Obama Administration to quit stalling and either the appeal or stop implementing Obamacare. The key paragraph in Vinson’s order is here:
After careful consideration of the factors noted above, and all the arguments set forth in the defendants’ motion to clarify, I find that the motion, construed as a motion for stay, should be GRANTED. However, the stay will be conditioned upon the defendants filing their anticipated appeal within seven (7) calendar days of this order and seeking an expedited appellate review, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court under Rule 11 of that Court.
Ouch, the government asked for clarification… and they got it along with a trip to the woodshed. The government now has 7 calendar to days file it’s appeal on an expedited basis or stop implementation of Obamacare.
I should note Judge Vinson’s ruling forces the Department of Justice to expedite the appeals process, something they were clearly hoping to avoid. The DoJ was apparently hoping to stall appellate action on Judge Vinson’s ruling in the hopes getting a friendlier set of rulings that would allow them to marginalize Vinson somewhere down the road. Instead they have fight Vinson’s ruling now rather than later.
- Judge hardens health ruling, then delays it – Lyle Denniston, SCOTUS Blog
- Breaking: Vinson stays ruling on ObamaCare – but just for seven days – Ed Morrissey, Hot Air
- Judge Vinson Fails to Apply the Two-By-Four – David Catron, American Spectator