Imagine two men walk into a bar: Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. While Mr. Smith orders himself and his new bride a round of drinks, Mr. Jones begins harassing the young lady. Mr. Smith, seeing this behavior, then swaggers back to his seat and describes the physical contest that awaits Mr. Jones if he does not bid Mrs. Smith adieu post haste. As Jones deliberates, Smith warns him, “You have three seconds to leave this bar, or else.” Then imagine the next day every major newspaper in the country covered the story by running the headline, “Smith Backs Down from Bar Fight.”
That’s what would have happened if the mainstream media covered this hypothetical showdown the way they covered Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling on ObamaCare on Thursday.
The First Malpractice of ObamaCare: Journalistic Malpractice
Instead of reporting on Judge Vinson’s stinging, insistent “clarification” of his previous ruling that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, the media emphasized that Vinson grudgingly allowed the administration to implement the policy under certain conditions. Noam N. Levey, the Washington Bureau reporter for the Los Angeles Times whose work is nationally syndicated, called the ruling “a legal victory” for Obama. The Wall Street Journal claimed, “Health Overhaul is Given Reprieve.” The Washington Post informed its readers the decision “clears the way for implementation” of ObamaCare. Politico writes, “Judge Roger Vinson Issues Stay of Own Ruling.” The Associated Press began its story by saying: “A federal judge who declared President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul unconstitutional ruled Thursday that states must continue implementing it while the case makes its way through the courts.”
While it is true Vinson allowed the implementation to go forward, he did so only if the Obama administration seeks a quick resolution from a higher court, or the Supreme Court itself, within one week. Vinson wrote his “stay will be conditioned upon the defendants filing their anticipated appeal within seven (7) calendar days of this order and seeking an expedited appellate review, either in the Court of Appeals or with the Supreme Court.”
Yes, like the victims in The Ring, Obama has seven days to appeal or consider the signature legislation of his presidency a dead letter in the 26 states that sued.
Also absent from the headlines of these national op-ed writers posing as journalists is mention of Vinson’s outrage, recrimination, and belittling of the administration’s disregard for his decision and the rule of law. He considered his initial ruling “a de facto injunction.” He expected the administration to file an appeal. However, “It was not expected that [Obama administration officials] would effectively ignore the order and declaratory judgment for two and one-half weeks, continue to implement the Act, and only then file a belated motion to ‘clarify.’” He said their claims they could continue enacting a bill he ruled unconstitutional “borders on misrepresentation.”
The judge further demonstrated the president planned to act as though his bill were constiutional “regardless of the ruling,” then Vinson expressed concern at the legal reasoning behind another appeal that claimed the Commerce Clause granted the federal government the power to regulate “mental activity.”
Far from constituting a victory, Vinson used the full range of his judicial powers to stop the president from unilaterally enforcing a law the bench had voided in toto and force him to take his case before the High Court as quickly as possible. Its fate there is by no means certain, although Obama is stonewalling on Elena Kagan’s role in ObamaCare. If he can withhold any incriminating documentation that would force his then-Solicitor General to recuse herself, she may provide the swing vote in his favor.
The idea that Kagan did not advice Obama on the legislation, including potential legal strategies to defend it in the case of the inevitable legal challenge, strains credulity. Absent her vote, it seems difficult to come up with five votes in favor of the revolutionary arguments Obama has put forth on its behalf.
This ruling was no victory; it strapped a time bomb to the health care reform bill and set the clock forward. Meanwhile, the president’s media allies spin the facts as they whistle past the graveyard.