Virginia Official Calls for Expedited Review of Reform Law Challenge
On Tuesday, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli (R) filed a brief arguing that a state lawsuit challenging the federal health reform law should bypass the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and proceed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/22).
Cuccinelli filed the brief in response to court documents submitted last week by the Obama administration that asked the Supreme Court to reject a petition by Virginia state officials to review the case before it has been fully adjudicated in an appeals court (AP/Washington Post, 3/22).
Background on Lawsuit
In February, Cuccinelli -- who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the reform law's requirement that nearly all U.S. residents obtain health coverage by 2014 or pay a penalty -- submitted a formal petition seeking an expedited review of U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson's ruling in the case.
In his December 2010 decision, Hudson ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional because it exceeds Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. Although it marked the first time that a judge had struck down a central provision in the law, Hudson's ruling did not invalidate the law or block its implementation.
Virginia officials and the Obama administration later filed formal notices of appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court. The Department of Justice argued that Hudson was wrong in his ruling of the mandate, while Virginia officials argued that Hudson should have struck down the entire overhaul.
Early last month, federal judges in the Fourth Circuit appellate court agreed to move up to May 10 their review of Hudson's ruling (California Healthline, 3/15).
In his latest filing, Cuccinelli said the federal government fails "to recognize the significant damage that delaying final resolution of the questions will inflict upon the states and others" (AP/Washington Post, 3/22).
Cuccinelli added that the case warrants rapid consideration because it meets the Supreme Court's requirement of "imperative public importance." He said, "If this case does not satisfy that standard, it is difficult to see what case ever would" (CQ HealthBeat, 3/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.