Judge Stays Order Invalidating the ACA

The Florida federal court judge who struck down the Affordable Care Act on January 31 has stayed his order enjoining enforcement of the law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality.  Judge Vinson explains why he stayed his order :

I cannot say that the defendants do not have a likelihood of success on appeal. They do. And so do the plaintiffs. Although I strongly believe that expanding the commerce power to permit Congress to regulate and mandate mental decisions not to purchase health insurance (or any other product or service) would emasculate much of the rest of the Constitution and effectively remove all limitations on the power of the federal government, I recognize that others believe otherwise. The individual mandate has raised some novel issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government about which reasonable and intelligent people (and reasonable and intelligent jurists) can disagree. To be sure, members of Congress, law professors, and several federal district courts have already reached varying conclusions on whether the individual mandate is Constitutional. It is likely that the Courts of Appeal will also reach divergent results and that, as most court watchers predict, the Supreme Court may eventually be split on this issue as well. Despite what partisans for or against the individual mandate might suggest, this litigation presents a question with some strong and compelling arguments on both sides. Ultimately, I ruled the way I did, not only because I believe it was the right overall result, but because I believe that is the appropriate course for a lower court to take when presented with a (literally) unprecedented argument whose success depends on stretching existing Supreme Court precedent well beyond its current high water mark and further away from the “first principles” that underlie our entire federalist system. Under these circumstances, I must conclude that the defendants do have some (sufficient for this test only) likelihood of success on appeal.

Judge Vinson also concluded that it “would be extremely disruptive and cause significant uncertainty” to stay implementation of the Act pending appeal, and that other relevant support granting the stay.

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