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AFTER DOJ ATTORNEYS DEFAULT FOR THE FOURTH TIME
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 14, 2011) — The Post & Email has reported previously on the case of Purpura v. Sebelius, which challenges the health care bill passed last year known as PPACA on 15 constitutional violations. The case was dismissed in April 2011 but was appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the plaintiffs, Donald R. Laster, Jr., has reported that the government has again missed a deadline to file its response and that the plaintiffs should therefore receive a default judgment.
While the question of “standing” had been presented as grounds for dismissal at the District Court level, a recent U.S. Supreme Court unanimous ruling stated that any citizen can challenge the constitutionality of a law without the citizen’s state being a party to the action. According to Laster, Judge Freda L. Wolfson ruled that “no standing” led to a lack of jurisdiction, hence the dismissal on April 21, 2011.
MR. LASTER: We filed a Motion for Default of the Appeal since the time extension which the DOJ requested and was granted was illicit. If we did not file a Motion for Default, we would have been accepting as valid the illicit extension of time that the court clerk granted. The court clerk granted a 30-day extension on the grounds that they “were too busy.” In the appeal, there is a request for default in which we challenged their claim that they “were too busy.” They put it in a bunch of verbiage, but what that verbiage boils down to is that they were too busy to get to it. Therefore, the extension of time was invalid, and since they have not answered, they have defaulted again.
This is the fourth default in this case. They originally defaulted and we filed a Motion for Summary Default Judgment. Twenty days after they were due to file, that is answer, is more than enough time to respond. Then they asked for an extension of time, having defaulted again in the District Court by failing to answer. This is the fourth time they have failed to answer. All they’ve been doing is stalling because they can’t answer.
MRS. RONDEAU: What is it specifically that they cannot answer?
MR. LASTER: Any of the counts. There are six counts that they just outright ignored and nine counts to which they gave spurious, ridiculous responses; when you read their responses in the District Court, they couldn’t even produce a coherent argument. They mix and match. They began to answer one count and then ended by answering another in their convoluted verbiage. That’s been the catch. When we filed the first Temporary Restraining Order in District Court, they specifically stated that they would answer each count separately.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you have their incomplete responses?
MR. LASTER: Every document is available online at the Jersey Shore Tea Party website as a zip file. It is a large file. Everything is also available at the U.S. Courts PACER system as well. That costs money; it’s $.08/page. So if you want the initial filings that are registered, you go to PACER, but we have everything scanned in and available at the Jersey Shore website.
MRS. RONDEAU: What should the court’s next step be if all the rules are followed?
MR. LASTER: If the rules are followed, just as if they had been followed in the District Court, the court will rule in our favor on all counts, telling the Department of Justice that they have defaulted and that they have lost. At that point, if the government wants to appeal it to the Supreme Court, it can. Of course, the Supreme Court would look at the court record, and by law and by the Constitution, they should be upholding the ruling in our favor. The DOJ has no record because it hasn’t answered anything.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you have reason to believe that the rules will be upheld by the Appeals Court?
MR. LASTER: I can only hope the Court will. We’ll simply follow the rules and respond as appropriate. We can only pray the Appeals Court follows the law and their own rules.
Regarding the decision by the District Court, I believe that Judge Wolfson had a personal interest in seeing the case dismissed because of Nick’s previous case filed there, which was unrelated to this one. I think she allowed her association with that case to prejudice her in this one. We never mentioned this case since it was irrelevant to the case before the Courts, but the DOJ decided they had to mention it in one of their Motions in the Appeals Court. It makes one wonder how desperate they are.
The Department of Justice cannot even write a coherent response to our 15 counts. They don’t seem to have anybody there who can write a decent sentence. All of the arguments fall apart when one takes the time to read what is actually written: lots of verbiage that doesn’t say much. You can see that in their request for an extra 30 days: 11 lines that say “we are to busy.” And of course they ignored the fact that the rules only allow for 14 days in their request.
So we wait for the Court to rule and hope they obey the rules, law and Constitution.