A constitutional law professor told The Palm Beach Post that Gov. Rick Scott’s current stance on federal health care reform “puts him at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”
The state of Florida is leading the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and has also blocked as much of its implementation as it can. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear the case next year, before the presidential election.
Scott recently said in an interview with the Post that the health care reform law signed by President Obama in 2010 is “not the law of the land.”
Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, tells the Post the statement was not a good move for the governor.
“If this is his position, then he is violating his oath of office, and that is a serious thing that I think the voters of Florida ought to be concerned about,” said Jost, co-author of a widely used health law textbook. “His position is ridiculous and he should (and probably does) know better.”
The health law does not force states to do anything but “get out of the way and let the federal government enforce and implement the law,” Jost said.
“Under the United States Constitution, a federal statute becomes the supreme law of the land once it is passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president,” Jost said. “The Supreme Court can subsequently hold all or part of it invalid, but unless and until it does, it is valid and in place.”
As a private citizen, Scott had spent millions of his personal fortune fighting health reform. But Scott agreed that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the law next summer, Florida will recognize it at that time.
“If it’s the law of the land, of course” Florida will implement it, Scott said. “If it’s the law of the land, we will be ready.”
During a town hall hosted by Florida health advocates earlier this month, Anton Gunn, the regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, expressed frustration with the state for falling so far behind in implementing mandates from the law. Mostly, he said, Florida is acting as if Affordable Care Act is not currently in place.
“This is the law of the land,” Gunn said. “Everyone needs to remember that.”