RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is looking to speed up his state's challenge to President Barack Obama's federal health care law.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cuccinelli has discussed with federal lawyers the possibility of bypassing the appellate court and petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court directly to hear the case.
"We are having those discussions with (the Department of Justice) -- nothing's been concluded," the attorney general told the newspaper Sunday.
Cuccinelli did not join 20 other states in a lawsuit filed after Obama signed the reform legislation into law, but instead elected to file a suit of his own.
The multi-state suit claims it is unconstitutional to require an individual to pay a yearly penalty if he or she does not purchase health insurance.
Beginning in 2014, individuals who flout the mandate face an annual penalty of $695, while employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable health coverage.
Cuccinelli says Virginia law prevents the federal government from being able to require Virginians purchase health insurance.
On Oct. 18, Judge Henry E. Hudson, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, said he could rule by the end of the year whether the Obama administration's federal health care reform is constitutional.
Cuccinelli argues the law requires consumers to buy a product and that they are being punished for doing nothing.
"The individual insurance mandate represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional exercise of federal power because it penalizes Americans for not engaging in commerce," the attorney general said in October, following the oral arguments.
"This case is not about health care. This case is about protecting our liberty. This case is about the states providing a check and balance to the federal government, which is exceeding the power we, the people, gave it through the Constitution.
"If we lose this fight and the federal government is allowed to cross this line, Congress will be granted a virtually unlimited power to order you to buy anything. That is not rhetoric. That is reality."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.