It is becoming increasingly obvious to legal experts that the Obama Justice Department shot itself in the foot when it asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to clarify a perfectly clear order.

Vinson hoped the DOJ would take the hint when he granted the plaintiffs in Florida v. HHS “declaratory relief? rather than an outright injunction. But they decided to mess with him.

The smart money says Vinson will halt implementation, and legal observers are wondering why Justice would take that risk.

As Randy Barnett, law professor at Georgetown University, put it:

Having lost one game of chicken when it came to the severability of the mandate, the government is now challenging the same judge to back down on whether his decision is binding.

Todd Gaziano of the Heritage Foundation was even more blunt:

The Justice Department request was an ‘insulting motion’ that was ‘disrespectful to the legal system and disrespectful to a judge in their circuit’ … ‘They knew there was nothing in Judge Vinson’s ruling that needed to be clarified. They’re not stupid.’

And the head scratching isn’t limited to libertarians and conservatives:

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at The George Washington University, said he was surprised by the Justice Department’s move … ‘I’ve really thought hard about what’s the tactical reason.’

Well, maybe Gaziano is wrong. Maybe they are indeed stupid. More likely, they’re just arrogant. That is the most consistent characteristic of the Obama administration.

The DOJ must file its reply to the plaintiff’s memorandum in opposition tomorrow (2-28). But Judge Vinson has no doubt been fuming about this since receiving the motion to clarify.

So, his ruling is likely to swift, sure and very hard on the the Obama Justice Department.

Comments 1

  1. Nyp wrote:

    Looks like it wasn’t such a dumb move after all — they got their stay and made clear that health reform remains the law of the land while appeals proceed.

    Posted 03 Mar 2011 at 12:30 am

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