Va. AG, feds will argue ObamaCare Tuesday

Jessica M. Karmasek May 9, 2011, 12:15pm


RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear an appeal regarding Virginia's challenge to the federal health care reform Tuesday.

A three-judge panel will hear the appeal. According to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office, the identities of the judges will be posted Tuesday morning on the court's website.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to speed up the lawsuit filed by Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli had argued that the issue was of great national importance and resolving it quickly was ideal, but the nation's high court did not agree. Now it will be heard by the Fourth Circuit.

Cuccinelli said he wasn't surprised with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to skip the Fourth Circuit.

"We asked the U.S. Supreme Court for expedited review of our lawsuit because Virginia and other states are already spending huge sums to implement their portions of the health care act, businesses are already making decisions about whether to cut or keep employee health plans, and citizens are in limbo until the Supreme Court rules," he said at the time.

"Asking the Court to expedite our lawsuit was about removing this crippling and costly uncertainty as quickly as possible."

Cuccinelli's lawsuit claims a portion of the reform package that requires individuals to pay a yearly $695 penalty if they do not purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

A federal judge sided with 26 states in a similar lawsuit in Florida in January.

Because the mandate is too integral a part to be separated, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson voided the entire legislation in the multistate lawsuit. He called it "a difficult decision to reach."

"If Congress intends to implement health care reform -- and there would appear to be widespread agreement across the political spectrum that reform is needed -- it should do a comprehensive examination of the Act and make a legislative determination as to which of its hundreds of provisions and sections will work as intended without the individual mandate, and which will not," Vinson wrote.

"It is Congress that should consider and decide these quintessentially legislative questions, and not the courts."

In the Virginia case, the federal government is appealing a district judge's decision to grant Cuccinelli summary judgment.

Oral arguments in the case are expected to start by 10:15 a.m. The Obama administration will be represented by Neal K. Katyal, the acting solicitor general. E. Duncan Getchell Jr., Virginia's solicitor general, will argue on behalf of the state.

Cuccinelli's office said the attorney general will host a news conference following Tuesday's hearing.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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