February 18th, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today praised Alaska Governor Sean Parnell for joining with Florida Governor Rick Scott and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to follow the ruling by Federal Judge Roger Vinson striking down ObamaCare as unconstitutional.
Governor Parnell yesterday announced that "We will not proceed down an unlawful course to implement this law. The court's declaratory judgment that the federal health-care law is unconstitutional is the law of the land as it applies to Alaska." Parnell said implementing the voided law would violate his oath.
On February 16th, ALG had sent a letter to Governor Parnell and 27 other state governors a party to the Florida and Virginia suits, plus New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, urging them to take immediate action against the implementation of new regulatory processes forbidden by Judge Vinson's ruling. Wilson thanked Governor Parnell for "doing the right thing."
"This is the correct response by the states, which have no power in any event to follow a law declared unconstitutional by the courts," Wilson said of Governor Parnell's action. "It is the Obama Administration that has lawlessly implemented this law in spite of the Judge Vinson's ruling. They have not taken the basic step of seeking an appeal or a stay. They are pretending they cannot comprehend what Judge Vinson meant when he declared the law unconstitutional."
Wilson said that without a ruling specifically overturning Judge Vinson's ruling, it "was the law of the land that both the states and Obama must follow."
According to Bloomberg News. Alaska's move allowed it to "skip a deadline to apply for a grant that federal officials say is needed to develop exchanges where residents would be able to buy medical insurance under the new health-care law."
By withholding their cooperation, Wilson credited the states with prompting the Obama Justice Department to yesterday return to court to ask Judge Vinson to clarify his ruling. According to the Wall Street Journal, Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the agency filed the court motion "to confirm that the court did not intend to disrupt the many programs currently in effect, including small business tax credits, the millions of dollars in federal grants awarded to states to help with health care costs and other ongoing consumer protections while this case is on appeal."
Wilson called the Justice Department's move a "diversion," saying the Justice Department was stalling for time. "They did not file a motion for a stay because that would be admitting that they knew Judge Vinson's ruling was binding in the first place. Now it's up to Judge Vinson to clarify that his ruling strikes down every single regulation being implemented pertaining to the law."
According to ALG counsel Nathan Mehrens, the states have 14 days to file an opposition to the Justice Department motion.
ALG Research Director Don Todd explained the states' options, "The Plaintiffs can file an opposing motion but they are not required to. They were asked to join this motion but did not. Whether there is enough cohesion among them to ask Judge Vinson to hold against all ObamaCare regulations is open to question."
Wilson agreed, saying, "There has been a level of dissension between the various states about the best way to proceed in light of Judge Vinson's ruling. Luckily, the Obama Administration flinched and went to court first. Now, it is very clear that the states will argue that the initial ruling strikes down all ObamaCare regulations."
According to the Associated Press, "A spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Vinson's ruling indeed does mean the states need not move forward with the health overhaul. Vinson 'clearly stated' that the order equaled an injunction, Jennifer Meale said in an e-mailed statement."
Wilson praised Bondi's "dedication to ensuring Administration compliance with Judge Vinson's ruling."
In Wilson's Wednesday letter to the governors, he had urged the states to return to court. "I urge you to ask Judge Vinson to find the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in contempt for violating his ruling and seek an order to desist from any further actions relating to the unconstitutional act," he wrote.
Wilson had cited a new ObamaCare regulation published in the Federal Register affecting student health plans as evidence that the Obama Administration was continuing with implementation of the voided law, demanding action by the states to seek further relief from the courts.
"Now, the states have no other choice," Wilson said, concluding, "They must ask Judge Vinson to clarify his ruling, which was already as plain as day, and argue that the new regulatory processes must not continue. We thank Governor Parnell and others for taking the lead to oppose Obama's unlawful action to proceed with implementing the voided law."
ALG Letter to 29 Governors, February 15th, 2011 at www.getliberty.org/files/ObamaCareImplementationLettertoStates2-15-11.pdf.
"New ObamaCare Regulations Defy Court, ALG Urges States to Take Immediate Action," February 11th, 2011.
"Obama Defies Judge, Implementation Continues," February 7th, 2011, ALG President Bill Wilson.
"The Week Ahead Analyzes Judge Vinson's Ruling," Video News Segment, February 1st, 2011.
"Judge Stops ObamaCare, but Who Will Stop Obama?" February 2nd, 2011, by Robert Romano, Senior Editor, Americans for Limited Government.