By Robert Romano –
On Feb. 17, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell took a stand against the continued implementation of the unconstitutional ObamaCare by the federal government in the wake of Federal Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling overturning the law. He announced that “We will not proceed down an unlawful course to implement this law. The court’s declaratory judgment that the federal health-care law is unconstitutional is the law of the land as it applies to Alaska.”
Parnell said implementing the voided law would violate his oath. He’s right. Now Parnell joins the company of both Florida Governor Rick Scott and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen who have taken similar stands affirming the Vinson ruling.
On Feb. 16, Americans for Limited Government (ALG) had sent a letter to Governor Parnell and 27 other state governors a party to the Florida and Virginia suits, plus New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, urging them to take immediate action against the implementation of new regulatory processes forbidden by Judge Vinson’s ruling.
ALG President Bill Wilson thanked Governor Parnell for “doing the right thing,” adding, “This is the correct response by the states, which have no power in any event to follow a law declared unconstitutional by the courts.”
Wilson continued, “It is the Obama Administration that has lawlessly implemented this law in spite of the Judge Vinson’s ruling. They have not taken the basic step of seeking an appeal or a stay. They are pretending they cannot comprehend what Judge Vinson meant when he declared the law unconstitutional.”
Without a ruling specifically overturning Judge Vinson’s ruling, Wilson said it “was the law of the land that both the states and Obama must follow.”
Which is exactly what Alaska is doing. According to Bloomberg News, Alaska’s move allowed it to “skip a deadline to apply for a grant that federal officials say is needed to develop exchanges where residents would be able to buy medical insurance under the new health-care law.”
By withholding their cooperation, the states have prompted the Obama Justice Department to return to court to ask Judge Vinson to clarify his ruling. According to the Wall Street Journal, Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the agency filed the court motion “to confirm that the court did not intend to disrupt the many programs currently in effect, including small business tax credits, the millions of dollars in federal grants awarded to states to help with health care costs and other ongoing consumer protections while this case is on appeal.”
Judge Vinson has expedited hearing on this matter and granted the states three business days to respond to the Justice Department’s motion. In a Feb. 18 order, he wrote, “because time is of the essence in this matter, and because everyone in this country would obviously benefit from certainty and final resolution of the case sooner rather than later, I do not think it necessary or appropriate to adhere to the briefing schedule that would normally apply.” Normally, plaintiffs would have fourteen business days to reply.
Which means a quick ruling will be forthcoming from Judge Vinson.
Interestingly, the Obama Administration did not file a motion for a stay on the initial ruling, or even an appeal — just a clarification. Wilson said that was “because that would be admitting that they knew Judge Vinson’s ruling was binding in the first place. Now it’s up to Judge Vinson to clarify that his ruling strikes down every single regulation being implemented pertaining to the law.”
ALG Research Director Don Todd explained the states’ options, “The plaintiffs can file an opposing motion but they are not required to. They were asked to join this motion but did not. Whether there is enough cohesion among them to ask Judge Vinson to hold against all ObamaCare regulations is open to question.”
Wilson agreed, saying, “There has been a level of dissension between the various states about the best way to proceed in light of Judge Vinson’s ruling. Luckily, the Obama Administration flinched and went to court first.”
Now, the states will have to argue that the initial ruling strikes down all ObamaCare regulations. Which appears to be what the states are doing. According to a report by the Associated Press, “A spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Vinson’s ruling indeed does mean the states need not move forward with the health overhaul. Vinson ‘clearly stated’ that the order equaled an injunction, Jennifer Meale said in an e-mailed statement.”
In ALG’s letter to the governors, Wilson had urged the states to return to court. “I urge you to ask Judge Vinson to find the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in contempt for violating his ruling and seek an order to desist from any further actions relating to the unconstitutional act,” he wrote.
The letter cited a new ObamaCare regulation published in the Federal Register affecting student health plans as evidence that the Obama Administration was continuing with implementation of the voided law, demanding action by the states to seek further relief from the courts.
“Now, the states have no other choice,” Wilson said, concluding, “They must ask Judge Vinson to clarify his ruling, which was already as plain as day, and argue that the new regulatory processes must not continue. We thank Governor Parnell and others for taking the lead to oppose Obama’s unlawful action to proceed with implementing the voided law.”
This courageous action by Governor Parnell has forced the Obama Administration’s hand to return to court. He is taking the lead on behalf of all Americans. Judge Vinson will likely follow with a ruling clarifying that, indeed, all ObamaCare regulations are unconstitutional and cannot be implemented. When he does, the federal government will have to halt all execution of the unconstitutional law.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.