Friday, March 4, 2011
This has not been a good month for the Obama administration in its continuing judiciary skirmishes.
On March 3, US District Court Judge Roger Vinson slammed the administration with the legal equivalent of enough already! In January, Vinson declared the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and issued a declaratory judgment, meaning the government must cease implementation of the law or seek an appeal. They did neither until 2 weeks ago when the DOJ essentially said, "We don't know what you mean."
In his testy response, Judge Vinson admonished the administration for "moving forward" for "four plus weeks" on an Act that was declared unconstitutional, failing to apply for an appeal and responding with "an untimely and unorthodox motion" to clarify his January 31, 2011 judgment that was already "clear and unambiguous."
To restrict the administration's dilatory wangles, Vinson stayed his own January declaratory judgment and ordered the Justice Department to file an appeal within 7 days.
This is not the administration's sole legal run-in. On February 2, US District Judge Martin Feldman found the administration's Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar in contempt for intentionally violating his June 22 order dissolving the moratorium on drilling following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Feldman found the administration's response to the spill unnecessarily broad and partially supported by a skewed drilling safety report that had been altered by the White House creating the impression "the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed," when it had not.
The administration responded to the initial order by creating a second moratorium, which Judge Feldman blocked. The Interior Department then instituted a de facto moratorium by refusing to approve drilling permits. On February 17, Judge Feldman ordered the US to make decisions on a set of five permits.
On February 28, the administration issued one permit, the first since the BP disaster, but not before Seahawk Drilling filed for bankruptcy as its rigs lay idle waiting for the permits.
Meanwhile the agency is now implying they cannot issue more permits without an additional $358 million in funding.
Posted by John at 1:01 PM