Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
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The Volokh Conspiracy is essential reading on days like today, especially for libertarians. Founded by Eugene Volokh of the UCLA law school, it’s a blog you must read for cogent analysis of the judiciary. Today, Heartland friend David Kopel pulls out a couple of features from Monday’s ground-shaking ruling against Obamacare that warrant citation here.
The 26 states lose on the argument that the mandate for drastically increased state spending under Medicaid is unconstitutional. State participation in Medicaid always has been voluntary, and remains so.
This is something that liberals don’t much appreciate today, but will in the future.
I’m no lawyer, but it appears that Medicaid does have a “severability clause,” it’s just that states have to have the guts to invoke it. Few would, so they pleaded to the courts (in this case) for dispensation when the feds pile on more costs and mandates than they can handle. Rightly, I think, federal judge Roger Vinson rejected this argument. This is a cue for two developments: (1) for states to more aggressively assert their rights and control over social programs pushed from Washington, and (2) for liberals to push all their health care aims into Medicaid and dare the states to resist.
It strikes me that if Obama and the Democrats merely tried to wrap all their aims into an expanded Medicaid package — with that iconic name, and within that structure — they’d have gotten everything they wanted with not nearly as much high-level resistance. Instead, they quickly and sloppily cobbled together Obamacare — which a majority of states in this nation have sued to stop. I’d like to think that most of these attorneys general were fighting on principle, but I’m guessing that most governors dispatched their state’s lawyers to fight for mostly fiscal reasons. Happily, they argued the Constitutional point, too. But this was a closer call than we thought.
No injunction. Declaratory relief is sufficient, especially since there is a presumption that the federal government will comply with judicial decisions.
The entire act is declared void. According to Cato’s Ilya Shapiro, this means that the federal government (presuming that it will obey the law) must immediately stop enforcing the entire health control law. Of course the 11th Circuit might grant a stay, and Judge Vinson might also do so, but as of right now, there is no stay.
The liberal defenders of Obamacare are presuming that all is still operational with the law. The New York Times and the rest of the MSM say that’s the case, and we can assume the Obama administration will operate under that assumption. But that’s not what the judge said. According to this ruling, all mandates (and even the tax “benefits”) of the law are void. They can only be reinstated if the Supreme Court reinstitutes the law.
In other words, the threats HHS has made to businesses to “play ball or else” have now been rendered empty. And, hopefully, that means all the special deals the Obama administration has made with its cronies and organized labor are also void.
As Obama likes to say, “let me be clear”: This is a great day for liberty and our constitutional order. That we have to wait several months to see how Anthony Kennedy is thinking on the day this reaches the Supreme Court is … well … just something fellow lovers of liberty will have to cross our fingers about and endure.