My favorite legal professor/blogger, William Jacobson, has more details on yesterday’s ruling. The two key points are the following:
- Since Judge Roger Vinson declared the “individual mandate” of requiring individuals to buy health insurance unconstitutional, and since there was no severability clause included in the law, the entire law must be thrown out;
- Since this ruling covers the greatest scope of the law than all other federal Court rulings to date, and because of point 1, the Executive branch must comply with the voiding of the law and seek a stay against the inherent injunction of the void in order to attempt to re-enable the law while the ruling is (likely) appealed.
The technical verbiage of the ruling RE: an injunction not required because the entire law is unconstitutional:
“…there is a long-standing presumption “that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” See Comm. on Judiciary of U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 542 F.3d 909, 911 (D.C. Cir. 2008); accord Sanchez-Espinoza v. Reagan, 770 F.2d 202, 208 n.8 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (“declaratory judgment is, in a context such as this where federal officers are defendants, the practical equivalent of specific relief such as an injunction . . . since it must be presumed that federal officers will adhere to the law as declared by the court”) (Scalia, J.) (emphasis added).
There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here. Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.”
More interesting paragraphs from the ruling that Prof. Jacobson pulled RE: lack of a severability clause (which would have enabled the remainder of the law to survive outside of any that might have been deemed unconstitutional):
“The lack of a severability clause in this case is significant because one had been included in an earlier version of the Act, but it was removed in the bill that subsequently became law. In other words, the severability clause was intentionally left out of the Act. The absence of a severability clause is further significant because the individual mandate was controversial all during the progress of the legislation and Congress was undoubtedly well aware that legal challenges were coming. Indeed, as noted earlier, even before the Act became law, several states had passed statutes declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional and purporting to exempt their residents from it; and Congress’ own attorneys in the CRS had basically advised that the challenges might well have legal merit as it was “unclear” if the individual mandate had “solid constitutional foundation.” …
In light of the foregoing, Congress’ failure to include a severability clause in the Act (or, more accurately, its decision to not include one that had been included earlier) can be viewed as strong evidence that Congress recognized the Act could not operate as intended without the individual mandate.
Moreover, the defendants have conceded that the Act’s health insurance reforms cannot survive without the individual mandate, which is extremely significant because the various insurance provisions, in turn, are the very heart of the Act itself…”
The Summary Judgement itself:
Florida Health Care Mandate Lawsuit – Summary Judgment Order
While the States didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s all irrelevant with this decision, as the entire law has been declared unconstitutional.
I’m going out on a limb and making a prediction: since this is going to the Supreme Court, they will uphold this ruling 5-4.
For a bit of levity, check out the following video:
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