Durbin: Obama Administration Should Enforce Obamacare Even Though Judge Ruled It Unconstitutional

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 3, 2011 | 4:01 AM EST

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Dec. 16, 2009. (AP File Photo/Harry Hamburg)

(CNSNews.com) - Following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutionality of the new health care law, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNSNews.com that the Obama administration should continue enforcing the health care law despite federal judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that it is unconstitutional.


In his Jan. 31 Final Summary Declaratory Judgment, Judge Vinson, in the district court for the Northern District of Florida, said “it is hereby DECLARED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010) … is unconstitutional.”

And in the complete ruling, Vinson wrote that “there is a long-standing presumption ‘that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, this declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.’”

Given the judge’s ruling, CNSNews.com asked Durbin on Wednesday whether he thinks the Obama administration should stop implementing the health care law.

Durbin, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, “Personally, I don’t, because the judge was asked for an injunction, and he didn’t rule that there would be one. So he hasn’t enjoined any conduct or activity. At this point, we have 16 courts that have considered this case.

“Twelve of them have dismissed the complaint initially, on procedural grounds. Of the four courts that took up the substance of the Affordable Health Care Act, which you call Obamacare, they split,” he added.

“Two said it was constitutional, two said it was not, and Vinson in Florida, Judge Vinson, Monday had a chance to not only decide whether it was constitutional but to issue an injunction,” said Durbin. “He didn’t do that.”

CNSNews.com then asked Durbin to clarify whether the Obama administration should continue to implement the law.

“Oh, absolutely,” said Durbin.

“If you were saying to me at this point, well, should we allow health insurance companies to discriminate against people because of pre-existing conditions? No,” said Durbin. “I mean, ultimately, I hope we never remove that provision. But I’m going to wait on the Supreme Court. I think that’s where the decision ultimately has to be made.”

CNSNews.com also asked, “What about average Americans and federal court orders in their situations? Should they look at a federal court order and say, ‘Well, I can just continue doing what –”

Durbin replied, “No, but make sure you get this clear. There was no federal court order from Florida enjoining anyone from complying with provisions of this law. The judge ruled that he thought it was unconstitutional.

“But I think he understood as we do that it’s now going to go to a higher level court, and in history the Social Security Act was found unconstitutional by a lower court. The minimum wage law was found unconstitutional by a lower court. The Civil Rights Act was found unconstitutional by a lower court. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in all three instances those laws were constitutional.”

CNSNews.com also asked Durbin what part of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to require individuals to purchase health insurance.

Durbin said, “Article 1, Section 8, the Commerce clause, and I think it’s clear. It is a necessary and proper application of an enumerated congressional power. And make no mistake, the people who want to escape their personal responsibility to buy health insurance, many of them will one day get sick and show up at the hospital and be treated, and their cost will be passed on to other responsible Americans who stand up and buy insurance to cover themselves and their families.”

“That kind of personal responsibility, I think, reflects what most conservatives used to say is part of our civic responsibility,” said Durbin, “but they seem to be arguing the opposite point now.”