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Posted at 5:04 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Wisconsin AG clarifies claim that health law is "dead"

By Greg Sargent

Yesterday Wisconsin's Republican attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, got lots of national attention after he released a swaggering, toughly-worded statement proclaiming that Judge Vinson's decision meant that the health law is "dead" for his state. Van Hollen said that henceforth, the state was "relieved of any obligations or duties" it faced in implementing the law.

Naturally, that raised questions. Would the state return the millions in federal grant money it had received under the law? Would the state stop running its a Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan, which was created by the law to insure those who are already sick, effectively pulling the plug on them?

Well, now the Attorney General appears to feel the need to clarify his original statement. His aide Steve Means sends over this:

"The statement, read in its entirety, speaks for itself and is not at all extreme. It was Judge Vinson who said that his ruling was the "functional equivalent" of an injunction. It is a basic principle of law that, when a statute is declared unconstitutional, the law becomes a nullity, particularly as between two parties -- Wisconsin and the Federal Government -- who were on the opposite sides of the case.

We've never claimed that coverage issued under existing health plans is suddenly different, nor have we said that states can or should ignore the fact that they will have to consider the practical implications -- including the potential impact of an appellate decision -- on how they conduct their day to day business. In fact, the Attorney General's statement expressly acknowledges just the opposite."

This is a bit difficult to parse, but the upshot seems to be that the state will continue running existing programs, at least for now. While there are many outstanding questions about what Wisconsin will do going forward, the statement would appear to confirm that the law is not "dead," after all.

It's another mark of how difficult repeal suddenly becomes when you start to talk about what, specifically, you're repealing.

By Greg Sargent  | February 2, 2011; 5:04 PM ET
Categories:  Health reform  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup


In A Nutshell;

Wisconsin Freeze Head, AG. Declares Patient Dead, but also alive and kicking!

Posted by: Liam-still | February 2, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Didn't he get the memo? The health law won't cost a dime. It will save the country a fortune. Everything is free in DemWorld. Pennies from heaven. Sign up here.

I don't think you can use food stamps for cheap wine, can you, Liam? What do you do? Buy a soda pop and cash in the bottles to get enough money for the hooch?

Posted by: Brigade | February 2, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The health care law is dead - by whatever method, it's out the window.

Politically, Obama would be best-off by agreeing to a REPEAL - and getting it off his plate for the next election.

However, the democrats seem resolved to follow Obama off the cliff.

Politically, the law is dead.

The law will be repealed at some point - some way - DEFUNDED or whatever - it is going out. The liberals should just concede now. Everything from now on for the liberals are just AVOIDABLE LOSSES.


Posted by: RainForestRising | February 2, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Republican braggadocio = epic fail.

Posted by: karenfink | February 2, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Brigade is Plumline's lobotomized version of Nelson Muntz.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 2, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Wisconsin AG: "It may not yet be an ex-parrot."

Posted by: JennOfArk | February 2, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

Wisconsin AG announces that Health Care Reform Bill Is Still Dead, but will continue to work and draw a paycheck, while lying in state.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 2, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

If the liberals want to keep on fighting for their DEFICIT-BOMB health care bill

which was passed ILLEGITIMATELY through

this thing that NO ONE ever heard of




Posted by: RainForestRising | February 2, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

STRF. You mean to tell me, you are not already happy; after I send you that lovely big gift basket of Capital Letters and Triple Spaces, to use as you please?

Posted by: Liam-still | February 2, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse


I missed that gift basket

You must have sent it to Obama by accident.


Posted by: RainForestRising | February 2, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

STRF. Why you ingrate. I recognize all those CAPS and triple spaces, that you have been using. You got that gift basket I sent, but you are too cheap to even mail a thank you card.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 2, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Wisconsin AG is correct

The State is required to spend money under the health care bill - so if the bill is void, the State really should not be wasting the funds.

Why is this such a shock to the democrats?

ALL the democrats IGNORED the Constitutional issues - thinking they knew better.

OR rather, the liberals preferred to go ahead and do something ILLEGAL UNDER THE CONSTITUTION.

For a liberal like Obama who is supposed to be so smart, it really is a slap in the face - that Obama really has no idea what he is talking about.

Obama is a fool, he has destroyed the democratic party.


Posted by: RainForestRising | February 2, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 2, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"It's another mark of how difficult repeal suddenly becomes when you start to talk about what, specifically, you're repealing."

Yup. Hard to spew _____ when folks want specifics.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 2, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"this thing that NO ONE ever heard of called RECONCILIATION --"

LOL! Bush heard of it! Check out how the tax package for the rich passed in 2002.

Whatever. You have your lies and I have my facts. And the media assures me they are one and same. Onward!

Posted by: Alex3 | February 2, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I really wish the comments section of The Plum Line was better. It's usually rather childish. That is too bad.

Posted by: kindness1 | February 2, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

kindness1, maybe you could start showing some maturity by answering my question to you on The Morning Plum thread: "Do you feel that the 13th Amendment should be optional?"

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 2, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Funny how conservatives forget all those times they used reconciliation to "cram down our throats" things they couldn't pass by the rules.
Back when Republicans started this silly tale that Democrats were using a never-used procedure, someone looked it up.
Turns out reconciliation has been used 30 times in 20 years...and 20 of those times were by Republicans!!!

Apparently Republicans are allowed to use the never-used, unconstitutional procedures, but Democrats can't use them...

Posted by: Zoomie1 | February 2, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Of course, reconciliation was used by the Republicans, but it used to be limited to BUDGET items and only allowed once per year under the Byrd Rule. You see, some of us know archane history. Don't be too hard on RainForestRising since 99% of the people really hadn't heard of it before the Democrats used it.

I also checked Google but couldn't find a link for your claim. Would you care to post where you got that statistic from?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

What I did find (admittedly Wikipedia isn't a definitive source, which is why I am asking for your source): "Since 1980, reconciliation has been used nine times when Republicans" controlled Congress. If it really has been used 30 times, then, the Democrats have used it far more often.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 3, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

From TP on how political Vinson was:

"Here is how Vinson lifts FRC’s argument:

Vinson’s opinion:

Severability is a doctrine of judicial restraint, and the Supreme Court has applied and reaffirmed that doctrine just this past year: “‘Generally speaking, when confronting a constitutional flaw in a statute, [courts] try to limit the solution to the problem,’ severing any ‘problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact.’” [...]

The question of severability ultimately turns on the nature of the statute at issue. For example, if Congress intended a given statute to be viewed as a bundle of separate legislative enactment or a series of short laws, which for purposes of convenience and efficiency were arranged together in a single legislative scheme, it is presumed that any provision declared unconstitutional can be struck and severed without affecting the remainder of the statute. If, however, the statute is viewed as a carefully-balanced and clockwork-like statutory arrangement comprised of pieces that all work toward one primary legislative goal, and if that goal would be undermined if a central part of the legislation is found to be unconstitutional, then severability is not appropriate. As will be seen, the facts of this case lean heavily toward a finding that the Act is properly viewed as the latter, and not the former.

Family Research Council:

Severability is fundamentally a doctrine of judicial restraint. “Generally speaking, when confronting a constitutional flaw in a statute, we try to limit the solution to the problem.” [...]

The question of severability is a judicial inquiry of two alternatives regarding the nature of a statute. One possibility is that Congress intended a given statute as a bundle of separate legislative embodiments, which for the sake of convenience, avoiding redundancy, and contextual application, are bundled together in a single legislative enactment. This makes a statute a series of short laws, every one of which is designed to stand alone, if needs be. The second possibility is that a given statute embodies a carefully-balanced legislative deal, in which Congress weighs competing policy priorities, and through negotiations and deliberation crafts a package codifying this delicate balance. Congress is thus not voting for separate and discrete provisions. Instead, Congress is voting on a package as a whole, any modification of which could result in the bill failing to achieve passage in Congress. As both Plaintiffs‟ briefs and the following argument shows, the Individual Mandate falls within the latter category, not the former."

Posted by: FoundingMother | February 3, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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