Health Care Ruling: The White House's Rebuttal


The White House called Monday's health care ruling "unconventional," critiquing federal Judge Roger Vinson's analysis as "out of the mainstream."

"This judge is the outlier on not only doing a very expansive ruling but declaring that implementation must stop," a senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.

Administration officials painted Vinson as a tea partier, basically, accusing him of using political rhetoric in his decision.

"It seems that this sort of political...rhetoric takes up more space here," another senior administration official said, asserting that Vinson used "rhetorical conjecture" that "oftentimes...makes oral arguments quite vivid [but] makes for surpassingly curious reading on the printed page."

You can read Vinson's 78-page decision here. White House adviser Stephanie Cutter responded to the decision in a blog post at Monday afternoon.

At the heart of the administration's complaint is Vinson's choice of cases to cite as relevant precedent.

For instance, a senior administration official said, Vinson ignored two cases cited prominently with regard to the individual mandate. Wickard v. Filburn dealt with the government preventing a farmer from growing wheat for personal consumption, citing Commerce Clause authority to regulate activity that affects the wheat market. Raich v. Gonzales dealt with the federal government's seizure of marijuana grown for personal medical consumption in California. Both are seen by legal experts as relevant case law on Commerce Clause authority to regulate markets, distinctions between economic activity and inactivity, and broad applications of regulatory authority over inactivity that affects a market. Vinson, a senior administration official complained, ignored both.

"The judge concluded, quite surprisingly...[that there are] really only two cases that matter here, the Lopez and Morrison cases, neither of which are viewed, quite frankly, as controlling," the official said. 'The line of cases that he's relying on is really weeding out a whole slew of cases."

United States v. Lopez deals with carrying a gun onto school property. United States v. Morrison dealt with the Violence Against Women Act. Both confronted issues of the government's Commerce Clause authority.

The White House seems to have a lot of problems with this ruling--from Vinson's use of hypotheticals to his conclusion that, because the mandate is unconstitutional, the whole law must be struck down.

And: "Somewhat contradictorily, the judge believes that at some point the federal government could in fact regulate these individual decisions not to purchase insurance, he just doesn't think it can be this way" at this time, the official said.

We're sure to hear more from the White House in the coming days--the official noted that there's only been an opportunity to read the 78-page decision very quickly--and from supporters of Vinson's decision, hitting back at these claims, as the legal analysis is rehashed by analysts and as the individual mandate makes its way to the Supreme Court.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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