Excerpts from The American Spectator, David Catron
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson tried to be polite to the Obama Justice Department. On January 31, he ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional but stopped short of granting the plaintiffs in State of Florida v. U.S. Department Health and Human Services an outright injunction against further implementation. Instead, he awarded them "declaratory relief." This, as Judge Vinson explained at the time, is the "functional equivalent of an injunction" because there is a presumption that "officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court." In other words, the judge was asking them nicely to halt implementation of ObamaCare until the appeals process had run its course.
The Obama administration made no effort to halt implementation of the unpopular health care law. In fact, the President and his health care bureaucrats openly declared their intention to move briskly forward with their plans to foist ObamaCare on an unwilling electorate.
When two states announced that they would treat the ruling as an injunction unless and until a higher court overruled the decision, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had the audacity to present Judge Vinson with a motion to clarify: "This motion respectfully asks the Court to clarify the scope of this order, in particular that its declaratory judgment does not relieve the parties to this case of any obligations or deny them any rights under the Affordable Care Act while the judgment is the subject of appellate review." In effect, the DOJ asked Vinson to issue a stay against his own ruling.
The judge was not amused. He did issue a stay against his previous ruling, making the stay conditional on the DOJ’s expeditious pursuit of an appeal. Noting that it is in the country's best interests to have this matter resolved quickly he wrote, "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 …" In other words, the Justice Department must file an appeal by March 10.
Vinson's order makes it clear that he was not taken in by the pretext behind the DOJ's motion: "While I believe that my order was as clear and unambiguous as it could be, it is possible that the defendants may have perhaps been confused …" He then "clarifies" key points in his original ruling:
"The individual mandate was declared unconstitutional. Because that 'essential' provision was unseverable from the rest of the Act, the entire legislation was void."
He continued: "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.” Finally, he points out what he did not intend: "It was not expected that [the administration] would effectively ignore the order… then file a belated motion to 'clarify.'”
It is already blindingly obvious that the Obama administration does not respond to reason. This was clearly demonstrated by the utter contempt with which the administration treated Vinson's January order. And such behavior is by no means limited to the various ObamaCare challenges. Even as the administration pressed Judge Vinson to force states to implement a health care law he had pointedly ruled unconstitutional, the President and his Attorney General declared their intention to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act. Barack Obama and Eric Holder obviously believe that they, rather than the Constitution and the courts, are the ultimate arbiters of a law's validity.