On March 3, 2011, Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida stayed his own January 31, 2011 ruling invalidating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), pending resolution of appeals. In the earlier ruling, the court found that PPACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional, and that the remainder of the legislation was not severable from the individual mandate. Accordingly, the court invalidated the whole law. The stay granted on March 3 came in response to the government’s February 17 motion for clarification, asking the court to explain the ruling’s impact on the Obama administration’s ongoing implementation of PPACA. The government argued that if the ruling were to have an “immediate injunction-like effect” on PPACA implementation, it would result in “a risk of substantial disruption and hardship for those who rely on the provisions that have already been implemented.” In spite of the ruling, the Obama administration had continued to implement provisions of the legislation.
Judge Vinson confirmed that his ruling was intended to be the “practical” and “functional equivalent of an injunction” against further implementation of PPACA, and chastised the government for failing to abide by the ruling. Judge Vinson added two conditions to his grant of a stay: first, that the Department of Justice file its notice of appeal to the Eleventh Circuit within seven days, and second, that the government pursue expedited review at the appellate level.
The case before Judge Vinson was brought by elected officials in 26 states. Three other federal judges have declared PPACA constitutional. One other federal judge declared the individual mandate unconstitutional, but only Judge Vinson’s decision invalidated the entire law.
The March 3 stay order is available by clicking here.