|Judge uses Obama’s words against him
The Washington Times | January 31, 2011
In ruling against President Obama‘s health care law, federal Judge Roger Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, arguing that there are other ways to tackle health care short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.
“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of the 78-page ruling Monday.
Judge Vinson, a federal judge in the northern district of Florida, struck down the entire health care law as unconstitutional on Monday, though he is allowing the Obama administration to continue to implement and enforce it while the government appeals his ruling.
The footnote was attached to the most critical part of Judge Vinson‘s ruling, in which he said the “principal dispute” in the case was not whether Congress has the power to tackle health care, but whether it has the power to compel the purchase of insurance.
Judge Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s campaign words from an interview with CNN to show that there are other options that could fall within the Constitution — including then-candidate Obama‘s plan.
During the presidential campaign, one key difference between Mr. Obama and his chief opponent, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, was Mrs. Clinton‘s plan required all Americans to purchase insurance, and Mr. Obama‘s did not.
In the heat of the primaries in 2008, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicted Mr. Obama‘s opposition to an individual mandate could come back to haunt him: “If Mr. Obama gets to the White House and tries to achieve universal coverage, he’ll find that it can’t be done without mandates — but if he tries to institute mandates, the enemies of reform will use his own words against him.”
Mr. Obama has since defended the constitutionality of the individual
mandate, arguing it’s the linchpin of the program to bring in more customers,
which is key to expanding the availability and affordability of insurance.
Much of the 78-page ruling was a discussion of how the nation’s founding fathers, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, set limits on congressional power. Judge Vinson also hypothesized that, under the Obama administration‘s legal theory, the government could mandate eating broccoli.
White House officials said that sort of “surpassingly curious reading” called into question Judge Vinson‘s entire ruling.
“There’s something thoroughly odd and unconventional about the analysis,” said a White House official who briefed reporters late Monday afternoon, speaking on condition of anonymity.