Bil posted video this weekend of John Berry, the head of the OPM, discussing that case where a federal judge ordered the government to pay for the health care benefits of a lesbian employee's partner. The Obama Adminstration refused to do that and blocked Blue Cross/Blue Shield from making the payment. Here's a rough transcript of Berry's explanation:
She was looking at this, and both her and the Justice Department, and Matt's here from the Justice Department, concluded that basically neither I nor the president have the authority to do this. Which is why Congresswoman Baldwin's legislation is so essential. And why the administration is inaudible on behalf of it it and is helping work with her to get it done. Because it will give me the authority to do it and as soon as we get it, the president will signed it we'll do it.
Now the judge has ordered me to go ahead and do it. And the lawyers are, you know, finding out what what we can do or not and they're going to tell me what I can do. And if the Justice Department says we can pay it, I'd be happy to pay it. If I can't, I can't.
The Administration has 30 days to respond to the judge, and I sure hope they find a better argument than this. Because what it appears like Berry is saying is that any random Justice Department employee's legal opinion outweighs that of a federal judge. I'm trying to look for another way to read it, but he's clearly saying that at judge's legal opinion is a nice afterthought, but the real legal decisions that govern the administration are made in-house.
Am I the only one who thinks this sounds familiar to another lawless administration's reasons for ignoring established law? And does this mean that if I hire a lawyer, and they tell me I don't have to follow a judge's order, that I don't have to? Because that'd be sweet.