Judge hedges on Obamacare court ruling

Freedom New Mexico

A reminder that few things are as simple as they first seem: In January, when a federal judge in Pensacola declared President Obama’s health care reform law unconstitutional, the judge became something of a shining knight of the right. Now his armor is looking a little tarnished.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who was widely thought to have killed the health care overhaul with his Jan. 31 ruling, clarified his decision last week. He said the Obama administration can continue implementing the health law while the case rambles through the courts. Halting its implementation now, he wrote, “would be extremely disruptive and cause significant uncertainty.”

He gave the White House seven days to file a formal appeal and chided it for not doing so earlier.

And then he acknowledged that other judges might not agree with him anyway. “It is likely,” he wrote, “that the Court of Appeals will … reach divergent results and that, as most court watchers predict, the (U.S.) Supreme Court may eventually be split on the issue as well.”

It was a fascinating tip of the hat to judicial ambiguity by a judge who, in his own courtroom, had sounded absolutely unambiguous in believing the health care overhaul ran counter to the Constitution.

We saw it coming. In a Feb. 5 editorial, we reported that politicians and court watchers disagreed on whether Judge Vinson’s ruling had actually struck down the health law. It’s also widely known that other federal judges have upheld it. Thus, while critics of the law may have been disappointed when Vinson said it’s still on the books, no one should have been surprised.

The fate of the health care overhaul ultimately will be decided by the Supreme Court. Until then, we are happy to have it challenged in as many venues as possible.

The American people were opposed to the 2,700-page law when Congress rushed its approval last year. It’s a massive overreach that promises to do more harm than good while bringing one-sixth of the U.S. economy under government control. If it’s allowed to stand, government authority will be expanded from the limited, enumerated powers envisioned by the Founders to virtually unlimited powers that infringe on individual rights.