(CN) - The Florida federal judge who recently ruled to strike down President Barack Obama's health care law as unconstitutional set an expedited briefing schedule on Friday over the government's request for clarification on that decision.
The government filed a motion for clarification on Thursday. "The court's declaratory judgment potentially implicates hundreds of provisions of the act and, if it were interpreted to apply to programs currently in effect, duties currently in force, taxes currently being collected, and tax credits that may be owed at this time or in the near future, would create substantial uncertainty," the memorandum states. "Because of the sweeping nature of the declaratory judgment, such an interpretation would pose a risk of substantial disruption and hardship for those who rely on the provisions that have already been implemented."
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson had found unconstitutional a provision of health care that required most Americans to buy health insurance, and he said the section could not be struck out to preserve the rest of the act.
But the government notes in its motion that the challenged provision is not scheduled to take effect until 2014. "In holding that the entire act must 'stand or fall as a single unit' and thereby declaring all provisions of the ACA invalid, the court expressly acknowledged that it was deviating from the '"normal rule" that reviewing courts should ordinarily refrain from invalidating more than the unconstitutional part of a statute.,'" the government wrote, using the abbreviated acronym for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In setting the expedited briefing schedule on Friday, Vinson noted that the government waited "two and one-half weeks" after his Jan. 31 order to file its clarification motion. He gave Florida officials challenging health care three business days to file opposition briefs, and the government gets another three days after that to file its reply.
Virginia officials, who won a less sweeping verdict against health care in mid-December, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court last week, asking the court to intercede and take up the appeal before the 4th Circuit has a chance to rule on the issue.
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