OLYMPIA—Senior US Judge Roger Vinson today in Florida clarified that his January 31 ruling—which declared the federal health care reform act unconstitutional—did in fact order the federal government to cease implementation of the Act. He expressed frustration with the Department of Justice's failure to act more quickly in this suit and added he would grant a stay of his decision if the federal government filed a notice of appeal within seven days and agreed to seek expedited review.
“As both sides have repeatedly emphasized throughout this case, the Act seeks to comprehensively reform and regulate more than one-sixth of the national economy…The sooner this issue is finally decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be,” Vinson said. “Yet it has been more than one month from entry of my order and judgment and still the (federal government has) not filed their notice of appeal. It should not be difficult at all or challenging to “fast-track” this case.”
Attorney General Rob McKenna, who joined the 26-state suit on behalf of the state of Washington, agreed with Vinson’s ruling and again expressed the urgency in moving the case along to the US Supreme Court.
“The federal health care reform law touches every American. Judge Vinson’s decision recognizes the urgency in putting this case before the US Supreme Court as soon as possible so we have greater certainty in our efforts to improve access to affordable health care for people and their families without violating their Constitutional rights,” McKenna said. “Our nation’s highest court should quickly review the individual mandate and provide guidance on how to proceed. I hope Governor Gregoire joins me in seeking the quickest end to the constitutional confusion surrounding the law by asking the Department of Justice to immediately seek expedited review.”
The multi-state suit, filed in March 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, challenged:
- The unprecedented requirement that all Americans must obtain or purchase private health care insurance or face a fine; and
- The massive expansion of the Medicaid program which the states argued will unconstitutionally require states to spend billions more at a time when state budgets are already in crisis.
The states presented their case before Vinson in Florida on Dec. 16, 2010. Six new states joined the suit on January 18. Virginia has mounted its own separate challenge to the new law and Oklahoma has announced its intention to do the same. US District Court Judge Henry Hudson for the Eastern District of Virginia in December sided with Virginia in finding the individual mandate unconstitutional.
The 26 states in the suit include: Florida, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Additional plaintiffs include the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and two individuals.
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For more information on the multi-state lawsuit visit:
- Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725