United States District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida wants to make one thing perfectly clear: he did rule the entire ObamaCare law unconstitutional.
Putting an end to weeks of weaselly language from Administration hacks and liberal pundits, Vinson confirmed that his January ruling killed ObamaCare stone dead. He was harshly critical of the Administration’s conduct since then, saying he did not expect them to “effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two and one-half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then file a belated motion to clarify.”
The Judge displayed his annoyance with marvelous bursts of dry wit. “While I believe that my order was as clear and unambiguous as it could be,” he wrote in his ruling today, “it is possible that the defendants may have perhaps been confused or misunderstood its import. Accordingly, I will attempt to synopsize the 78-page order and clarify its intended effect.” That’s called “snark” when it comes from anyone except a judge.
Vinson makes good on his promise to clarify the situation in the remaining 20 pages of his ruling. Among other things, he reiterates that the unconstitutional “individual mandate” cannot be severed from the rest of the law, noting that Congress “knew for certain that legal challenges to the individual mandate were coming,” but “specifically (and presumably intentionally) deleted the severability clause that had been included in the earlier version of the Act.” This leads him to conclude that “the conspicuous absence of a severability clause… could be viewed as strong evidence that Congress recognized the Act could not operate as intended if the individual mandate was eventually struck down by the courts.”
In other words, Vinson saw plainly that every part of this massively complex legislation was tied into the individual mandate, so the constitutionality of ObamaCare is an all-or-nothing affair. There’s no way this monster can survive with its heart torn out.
Explaining why he did not include a specific injunction against implementation of ObamaCare against the plaintiffs in his case (which include over half the states in the country), Vinson cited precedent that establishes “a long-standing presumption that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” As the Judge has discovered, that’s a lot to presume with this lawless Administration, in which the President sits as the sole judge of constitutionality for laws his key constituencies don’t like.
Since he knows the Administration is hot to appeal his ruling, and he wants to “save time in this time-is-of-the-essence case,” he has decided to treat the motion to clarify as a request to stay execution of his ruling. He’s given the President’s people seven days to file an appeal. The Obama Administration has been paralyzed by foreign and domestic events over the past few weeks. We’re about to see what it looks like when they move very quickly.