By Rick Manning -
The headlines read that the Obama Administration won a stay of the ruling by federal Judge Roger Vinson of his historic decision declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional and asserting that all regulatory activity surrounding it should cease and desist.
However, it is likely that the Obama Administration is already regretting this classically Pyrrhic victory, as Vinson has put a ticking time bomb in his order that forces them to not only file an appeal to his decision within seven days, but also requires that they request expedited consideration of the law to move it to the Supreme Court in months rather than years.
It is likely that Vinson made the decision to put this legal timeline in place as a direct result of the Administration being held in contempt of court by his fellow federal judge, Martin Feldman due to their refusal to follow his ruling that they reopen the Gulf of Mexico for drilling. In his contempt ruling, Judge Feldman wrote, “Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance.”
Vinson himself wrote in his Mar. 3 ruling, “It was not expected that they would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment [to stop implementation of the law that was found unconstitutional] for two and one- half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then file a belated motion to “clarify.”
In an attempt to force compliance, Judge Vinson’s order explicitly states in its conclusion, “…this case is STAYED pending appeal, conditioned upon the defendants filing their notice of appeal within seven (7) calendar days of this order and seeking an expedited appeal review.”
If there is any doubt about Judge Vinson’s belief that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, he grants the Administration their request for clarification by writing in his ruling, “The individual mandate was declared unconstitutional. Because that ‘essential’ provision was unseverable from the rest of the Act, the entire legislation was void. This declaratory judgment was expected to be treated as the ‘practical’ and ‘functional equivalent of an injunction’ with respect to the parties to the litigation. This expectation was based on the ‘long-standing presumption’ that the defendants themselves identified and agreed to be bound by, which provides that a declaratory judgment against federal officials is a de facto injunction.”
By compelling the Obama Administration to file an appeal within seven days, Vinson is drawing a judicial line in the sand, forcing them to decide between continuing to ignore the ruling and having a showdown over the implementation of the void law, or moving rapidly toward a judicial conclusion that would put the entire issue to rest before regulations can be put into place that would effectively destroy the private health system.
Obama’s plan from the outset was to play a legal stall game that would effectively eviscerate the current system while the case was pending in federal court, leaving nothing in its place but an inevitable single payer, Canadian style system. The Vinson decision thwarts that effort, and at least temporarily averts a direct clash between the Executive and Judicial branches of government, contingent upon the Obama Administration following the law.
Now, the ball is in Obama’s court, and the clock is ticking toward Mar. 10, 2011, when an appeal must be filed to Judge Vinson’s ruling. Failure to comply will mean the lifting of the stay, and an order that all regulatory work on ObamaCare cease and desist — an order that if ignored by the Administration will create a constitutional crisis not seen in our nation since the Nixon Administration.
In ordinary times, it would be easy to predict that the court rulings would be followed, but as the Administration is already in contempt of court in the New Orleans case for failure to comply, there are no guarantees that Obama won’t choose to put his policies above the law of the land, and stiff arm Judge Vinson as well.
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama put his hand on a Bible and said the following words, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
For the sake of the nation, let’s pray that he remembers these words, and begins to follow the law, even when the courts don’t do what he wants.
Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.