Obama administration officials are vowing to continue implementation of the president’s health care law “apace” despite a second ruling that the law is unconstitutional, calling the decision by Judge Robert Vinson “a plain case of judicial overreaching” well outside mainstream legal thought.
“We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld,” said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter in a blog post published at WhiteHouse.gov.
Senior administration officials vowed implementation of the law would “proceed apace.” The Justice Department is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
“We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling today and continue to believe – as other federal courts have found – that the [health care law] is constitutional,” said Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, “The department intends to appeal this ruling to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Officials dismissed the ruling as the work of a rogue judge and predicted other courts wouldn’t follow Vinson in ruling the entire law void.
“Those with any degree of perspective on the issue…will see this case as an outlier,” one senior administration official said, criticizing Vinson for the decision’s reference to the Boston Tea Party.
Asked by a reporter whether the ruling would have any practical impact on implementation of the law at all, a second senior official said “no…we don’t see any basis for that judgment.”
Obama officials predicted states party to the lawsuit would not use the ruling as a basis to resist mandates in the law. “I don’t believe any state would take that position,” said the first senior administration official.
However, lawyers representing states that are party to the lawsuit said states facing budget crises may see the ruling as a means to escape funding mandates in the law.
Cutter’s blog post argued that the health care law’s “individual mandate,” which imposes a sizable fine on those who do not purchase health insurance, is well within constitutional bounds.
Those claiming the provision “exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because it penalizes ‘inactivity’ are simply wrong. Individuals who choose to go without health insurance are actively making an economic decision that impacts all of us,” Cutter said.
Vinson warned in his ruling the legal precedent of the individual mandate could open the door to virtually unlimited power by Congress.
“It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce,” it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted,” the ruling says.