GOP Senators Won’t Say If Obama Administration Should Stop Enforcing Health Law After Federal Judge Ruled It Unconstitutional

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 4, 2011 | 4:33 AM EST

( -- When asked if the Obama administration should stop enforcing the new health care law given that federal judge Roger Vinson ruled it unconstitutional, Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told that the Supreme Court will “ultimately” decide the constitutionality of the law. In addition, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the “courts should be given the opportunity to make that decision, finally.”

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.’”

On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Senator Cornyn told, “Well, of course, ultimately this case is going to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. So I imagine what will happen in the next level of appeal, that court will tell the court below that can’t be implemented pending the appeal to the Supreme Court.”

“But I think there’s a very important question that you really are touching on and that is what should Congress do now that two federal judges have held that this is an overreach by the federal government and the individual mandate’s unconstitutional” said Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). (Photo: Cornyn Web site)

“Should we come back and repeal that provision along with other previsions of this health care bill that frankly we can’t afford?” he said.  “I know it’s called the Affordable Care Act but really the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable. It’s a $2.7 trillion program at a time when we are swimming in red ink and government debt is up in excess of $14 trillion.”

“So this is odd that we’re having a hearing on the constitutionality of a law that was passed more than a year ago,” said Cornyn. “We didn’t have one then and we should have because these are important and serious questions about the role the federal government has power to intervene in our lives as individuals.”

Cornyn spoke with after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. further asked Cornyn, “Given that the federal judge in Florida ruled that it’s unconstitutional, do you think in the meantime the Obama administration should just stop implementing the law?”

Cornyn said, “Well, the good news is many of the provisions of this law don’t kick in until 2014, and my hope is that before that happens that the Supreme Court will have a chance to finally rule on this. But I think what this hearing reflects is the deep flaws in this, and I think what people sort of feel in the pit of their stomach is that the federal government is spending too much, borrowing too much, and intervening in our lives in a way that it never has before and it needs to stop.”

After the hearing, also asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.),  “Do you think the Obama administration should have to follow the federal judge’s ruling in Florida?”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). (AP File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sessions said “The Obama administration is required to follow the Constitution. This health care monstrosity raised, I think, serious constitutional questions. I have such great respect for the courts and the briefing process and all that, that I think they should be given the opportunity to make that decision, finally."

“But we in Congress should know that we have an obligation to follow the Constitution,” said Sessions. “And if it is constitutional, the mandate [requiring Americans to buy health insurance] particularly, if that mandate is constitutional, it is barely so and we will have pushed the envelope of constitutional power beyond, I think, where we should go to accomplish this colossal health care bill.”

He continued, “So, I think it’s a good heads up for us. Obviously a number of federal judges have concluded it does violate the Constitution, which is what a number of us felt at the time and it's sort of interesting that we have a hearing now after it’s over, after the bill has been passed when the constitutionality was raised repeatedly of it on the floor. But the determination from the administration to just ram this bill through, regardless of any objection, overcame that -- and by the nearest of margins, it passed.”