Heartland Institute Experts React to Judge Vinson’s Latest Ruling on Obamacare

March 04, 2011
Jim Lakely

Heartland Institute Experts React to Judge Vinson’s Latest Ruling on Obamacare
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson in Florida on Thursday stayed his January 31 ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional. Yet Vinson also criticized the Obama Justice Department for misreading his original ruling, staying its "plain and unambiguous" language was intended to stop implementation of Obamacare until a full appeals process was completed.

 Vinson on Thursday ordered the government to file an appeal to his ruling within seven days if it wants to keep the stay in place.

The following comments from experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank based in Chicago – may be used for attribution.

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 Greg Scandlen, health care policy advisor, The Heartland Institute:

"Despite what many in the media are saying, Judge Vinson’s latest ruling on Obamacare is not muddled at all. The administration did not want a stay. They asked for a ‘clarification’ so they could then file another motion asking for a stay and prolonging the process by another several months – after which they would file an appeal, but very slowly. Vinson hurried up the process by issuing a stay contingent upon the government filing a motion for an expedited appeal within seven calendar (not business) days. This is not what the administration wanted.

"I have never seen harsher language used against one of the parties in a judicial order. Vinson is clearly furious.

"I also completely disagree with the narrative used in most of the media that the various rulings on Obamacare are based on the political leanings of the judges. I think the outcomes are more the result of the quality of the plaintiffs than the orientations of the judges. Judges are supposed to rule based on the evidence and briefings presented by the two sides. If one side presents a lazy and incomplete case, a judge has no choice but to rule against it. The two successful cases against Obamacare have been brought by state attorneys general who know what they are doing."

For additional comments, contact Greg Scandlen at gmscan@comcast.net or 312-377-4000.

Maureen Martin, J.D., senior fellow for legal affairs, The Heartland Institute:

"The legal immorality of the Obama administration and its Department of Justice now stands fully exposed. Lawyers are widely believed to be unethical. But one thing virtually no lawyer will do is give his word to the court he will obey the court’s order – and then immediately disobey it. That’s exactly what the government has done here.

"The plaintiffs in this case – more than two dozen states and other parties – won something called a ‘declaratory judgment’ that Obamacare in unconstitutional. Judge Vinson notes in his Thursday order a declaratory judgment is ‘the functional equivalent of an injunction,’ ordering the parties to do or not do some act. The judge notes the government lawyers during the proceedings before him had ‘specifically insisted that they would honor’ the declaratory judgment as an injunction – meaning they promised the court not to enforce the health care law.

"Now the government says it thought the injunction is stayed pending appellate review. The legal authority the government cited not only does not support the government’s position, the judge says, but citing it as supportive ‘borders on misrepresentation.’ The judge did give the government until next Thursday to file an appeal.

"The government has already refused to obey a Louisiana federal court order requiring the government to resume issuing oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. And the government has refused to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act on grounds they ‘believe’ it is unconstitutional.

"Department of Justice lawyers should thank their lucky stars Judge Vinson didn’t sanction them for frivolous statements to the court. Next time, one can only hope they’re not this lucky."

For additional comments, contact Maureen Martin at mmartin@heartland.org or (920) 295-6032.

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The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.heartland.org or call 312/377-4000.