Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida has just responded to the Obama administration's "motion to clarify" his prior ruling, which declared ObamaCare unconstitutional and void. That "motion to clarify" essentially asked Vinson, "Didn't you really mean that we can keep implementing ObamaCare while we appeal your ruling?" Today, Vinson answered, "No."
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs, who include Florida and 25 other states, argued that the administration's "motion to clarify" was actually a veiled request to have Vinson stay (i.e., set aside) his original order blocking implementation. Vinson agreed, and therefore treated the Obama administration's "motion to clarify" as a motion to stay, which he granted. Vinson made clear, however, that if the administration fails to file a notice of appeal by March 10 or fails to seek an expedited appeal either with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, then his stay will lift and the administration will (once again) be barred from implementing or enforcing ObamaCare. In other words, Vinson prevented the Obama administration from treating his stay as an excuse to ignore his ruling while the further entrenching the law.
It would have been better if Vinson had stuck to his original order blocking implementation. Yet he made clear that one of the reasons he did not is that many of the states asking him to strike down the law are implementing it anyway. Vinson wrote that the case for blocking implementation:
is undercut by the fact that at least eight of the plaintiff states...have represented that they will continue to implement and fully comply with the Act’s requirements --- in an abundance of caution while this case is on appeal --- irrespective of my ruling.
As the Obama administration explained to the court:
[S]ince the Court entered its judgment on January 31, at least 24 of the 26 plaintiff states have applied for additional grants authorized or appropriated by the ACA, continued to draw down grant funds previously awarded under the ACA, or otherwise availed themselves of resources made available by the ACA. Indeed, South Carolina has continued to drawn down exchange planning grant funds, even though it has declared the Act “void and unenforceable.” Similarly, Utah has described the declaratory judgment as an “injunction against further implementation” of the Act, but has continued to draw down Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (“PCIP”) funds and to request Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (“ERRP”) reimbursements.
Now would be a good time for the South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), and the governors of the other 22 plaintiff states to join Alaska and Florida in refusing to accept any further ObamaCare funds, returning the ObamaCare funds they have already received, and ceasing all implementation activities, including "planning" efforts.
Tea partiers and other conservative groups turned on House Republicans in a dispute over when the House would vote to cut off all ObamaCare spending. Where's the outrage over the governors and state legislators that are eagerly pursuing that funding, actively implementing the law, and preventing judges from stopping implementation?