One week, two strikes: ObamaCare and excessive drilling regulations.
The courts have delivered some considerable blows to the Obama administration over the past few days.
The federal court decisions on ObamaCare have been stacking up and from what I understand the tally is 3 to 2. That is 3 courts ruling against ObamaCare in some manner and 2 courts upholding the law – until last week! A federal court panel dealt the administration another strike against ObamaCare, moving the legal challenge closer to a Supreme Court decision:
President Barack Obama’s health-care law moved closer to review by the U.S. Supreme Court with a federal appellate ruling that its requirement for most Americans to have insurance coverage is unconstitutional.
The 2 to 1 ruling conflicts with an earlier decision by a federal appeals panel in Cincinnati, which upheld the individual mandate. The provision exceeds Congress’s power to regulate commerce, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled yesterday, affirming in part a lower court in a lawsuit filed by 26 states.
“This guarantees that the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, and makes it very likely that the court’s ruling will come by the end of June 2012,” said Kevin Walsh, an assistant professor at the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia.
As the challenge edges closer to the Supreme Court the challengers will be able to point back to at least 4 of 6 federal court decisions that ruled against all or part of ObamaCare. That does not necessarily mean the Supreme Court will instantly side with those decisions, but since legal reviews weigh heavily on precedent it is an advantage for ObamaCare opponents. The Obama administration does not seem too concerned – publicly at least.
Ever since the BP oil spill the White House has intensely pursued highly restrictive regulations to grind shallow and deep water drilling to a halt. The first weapon was a moratorium, but that has been struck down multiple times in court. Then the administration then switched strategies from an all out ban to excessive regulations. Federal Judge Feldman called that policy out as being in contempt of court since the regulations were intentionally being used as a means of enforcing a quasi-moratorium. That hasn’t stopped the White House though. They even moved their efforts from the seas to land, further restricting energy companies from drilling. And again, a federal court has stepped in to put a check on the oversteps of the Obama administration:
A federal judge has struck down an Obama administration policy concerning drilling on public lands, raising the possibility that more permits will be issued for oil and gas companies.
But it wasn’t clear Monday how the Interior Department, which processes the permits, would respond. The ruling, issued Friday by the U.S. District Court in Wyoming, rejected a policy that had required more extensive environmental review of some drilling permits.
The Interior Department “had no authority” to adopt the policy last year “without public notice and an opportunity for comment,” Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal wrote. She ruled in favor of an industry group and vacated the policy nationwide.
An Interior Department spokesman said the agency was reviewing the ruling and declined to comment further.
The ruling “holds the promise of new jobs and economic growth,” said Kathleen Sgamma, director of government and public affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, which filed the suit and represents Devon Energy Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., among others.
Who knows what will happen with this court decision. The Interior Department seems to find every possible way around a court decision to achieve the same results. That leaves me thinking again about what Federal Judge Feldman said – “contempt.” At what point is someone held accountable for abuses of power? Businesses lose millions and billions of potential revenue. People lose their jobs. States and the federal government lose the tax revenue. However, the government officials making these policy decisions from the bureaucrats all the way up to President Obama continue to shuffle papers to buy more time and hope for a more lenient appellate judge. Has justice against an oppressive federal government been discarded?