On January 31, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional and granted “declaratory relief” to the plaintiffs in Florida v. HHS. Declaratory relief, as Judge Vinson explained at the time, was essentially an injunction meant to stop implementation of ObamaCare until the appeals process had run its course.
However, despite Vinson’s presumption that “the Executive Branch will adhere to the law,” the Obama administration refused to halt implementation. In fact, they had the crust to present him with a “motion to clarify.” The judge was not amused. Here’s how he worded his request to the plaintiffs for a response in opposition:
Because I determined that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the Act, it was also necessary to declare the entire statute void. The defendants have now, two and one-half weeks later, filed a motion to ‘clarify’ that order.
The plaintiffs, represented by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, filed the requested response and it was pretty frank about the motivations of the Obama Justice Department:
Department of Justice’s motion to clarify is merely an attempt to delay the process when the order clearly required a halt to implementation. Judge Vinson’s order is an injunction stopping the federal government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act on the 26 states.
Like the farmer in that old gag about how to manage a mule, Vinson tried to be polite to the Obama DOJ. By now, however, he certainly realizes that it will require a sharp rap on the head with a hard object to get the attention of this particularly stubborn government mule.
I’m betting he’ll issue an injunction within the next 24 hours that will get the attention of everyone concerned. He will enjoin the states from implementing ObamaCare until the appeals process is done. And woe unto anyone who ignores that injunction.
Well, my “24 hour” prediction was not very realistic. In Vinson’s request for an expedited response from the plaintiffs, he promised to rule promptly. But he can’t rule at all until DOJ files its reply memorandum (a response to Florida’s response to its motion to clarify) and that isn’t due until tomorrrow (2-28).
Presumably, the judge is crafting an injunction that even the scofflaws at the Obama DOJ will understand. But he has to give their reply to Florida’s memorandum in opposition a fair reading before he swings the two-by-four. Meanwhile, legal scholars are wondering what the DOJ was thinking when it decided to mess with Vinson.