States Try to Block HCR Challenge Ruling Clarification Effort

February 25, 2011 ( – A state official is accusing the U.S. Justice Department of deliberately delaying a court's consideration of a key health care reform law challenge.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asserted that the government’s recent request to U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to clarify whether Vinson intended the law to be implemented while court appeals are pursued was merely a stalling tactic. Bondi contended that the Vinson ruling effectively represented an injunction blocking the government from enforcing health care reform until legal disputes over the law wended their way through the court system.

Bondi’s office is representing 26 states and a business trade group who claim the reform law – particularly the individual mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty – represented an unconstitutional overreaching by Congress. Vinson declared the individual mandate unconstitutional (see Florida HCR Challengers Win on Commerce Clause Argument).

“Department of Justice’s motion to clarify is merely an attempt to delay the process when the order clearly required a halt to implementation. Judge Vinson’s order is an injunction stopping the federal government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act on the 26 states,” Bondi declared in a statement. “Our memorandum states that time is of the essence in this matter, and the Court should deny the defendants’ motion for clarification as well as their thinly disguised request for a stay.”

Bondi’s legal brief opposing the government’s clarification request is here.  The Justice Department’s original clarification motion is here.