Rebellious States? Or Rebellious Sebelius?
By Hadley Heath
The federal government has asked Judge Roger Vinson in the Florida case to "clarify" his ruling.
Judge Vinson: "You're wrong - ObamaCare is unconstitutional."
Department of Health and Human Services: "Um... Excuse me?"
Oh yes, Sebelius, you heard correctly. Judge Vinson ruled that, not only is ObamaCare unconstitutional in its entirety, but that it must stop. Halt. Desist. This reminds me of some childlike behavior in which one party - the executive branch of the federal government - refuses to believe that it can lose. Welcome to checks and balances.
From The Hill's Healthwatch blog:
In light of Vinson’s ruling, some states have declared the reform law effectively dead unless an appellate court reverses the decision. Florida has returned federal grants for implementation, while Alaska has turned down another.
The 26 states and NFIB called the Obama administration’s request for a clarification a thinly-veiled attempt to request a stay.
“If the Government was not prepared to comply with the Court’s judgment, the proper and respectful course would have been to seek an immediate stay, not an untimely and unorthodox motion to clarify,” the plaintiffs wrote. “Defendants’ Motion is, in fact, a transparent attempt, through the guise of seeking clarification, to obtain a stay pending appeal.”
The administration has argued in its clarification request that the so-called individual mandate does not go into effect until 2014, which gives the plenty of time for appellate courts to decide on the mandate’s constitutionality. Meanwhile, a number of provisions in the healthcare overhaul have already taken effect or require immediate action.
It's as if they didn't hear the bit about "unseverable." Yes, the mandate is still years away, but the other provisions of the law are unconstitutional too - according to Vinson's ruling. Vinson has said he will respond to the request for clarification "promptly." In the meantime, who is in contempt of court? The states who are acting under a federal judge's declaratory judgment? Or the Department of Health and Human Services, that continues to operate under the assumption that ObamaCare is in effect? Judge Vinson will clarify this soon, but even his clarification will not be a final answer on the law's final fate. That finality will come only from the Supreme Court, who will probably hear the one of the cases in 2012.