President Obama has not been shy about trespassing the boundaries between the executive and the judiciary branches, memorably scolding the Supreme Court during his 2010 State of the Union about their decision allowing corporate spending in campaigns.
Today, Stephanie Cutter, a veteran Democratic operative who has been put in charge at the White House of making you like the health care bill, launched a personal attack on the Florida federal judge who struck down the health reform bill yesterday.
In her comments on the White House Blog, Cutter clearly suggests that “Judge Vinson” – he’s too contemptible to have a first name – is pursuing a conservative ideological agenda by “overreaching” and engaging in “activism.”
Today’s ruling – issued by Judge Vinson in the Northern District of Florida – is a plain case of judicial overreaching. The judge’s decision contradicts decades of Supreme Court precedent that support the considered judgment of the democratically elected branches of government that the Act’s “individual responsibility” provision is necessary to prevent billions of dollars of cost-shifting every year by individuals without insurance who cannot pay for the health care they obtain. And the judge declared that the entire law is null and void even though the only provision he found unconstitutional was the “individual responsibility” provision.
This decision is at odds with decades of established Supreme Court law, which has consistently found that courts have a constitutional obligation to preserve as a much of a statute as can be preserved. As a result, the judge’s decision puts all of the new benefits, cost savings and patient protections that were included in the law at risk.
Under today’s view of the law, seniors will pay higher prices for their prescription drugs and small businesses will pay higher taxes because small business tax credits would be eliminated. And the new provisions that prevent insurance companies from denying, capping or limiting your care would be wiped away.
We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts.
The bold effect on the last sentence is hers.
The White House is within its right to criticize the decision. About half the Supreme Court will as well, though whether it will be almost half or a little more than half is unclear.
What’s unfortunate, in the nascent Era of Civility that I thought had fully gripped the White House, is the ad hominen criticism of a federal judge.