Ruling In Va. Health Lawsuit Renews Blogger Interest In Case


A federal judge’s ruling on Tuesday that Virginia’s lawsuit against the new health overhaul law may proceed sparked commentary from several health care bloggers.

NPR’s Julie Rovner writes: “Justice Department lawyers probably smelled trouble when they read Hudson’s first sentence, which called Virginia’s case ‘a narrowly-tailored facial challenged to the constitutionality’ of the health law.”

Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog says: “The ruling represents a setback that will force the Obama administration to mount a lengthy legal defense of the law. The suit, filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli … , alleges that the law’s requirement that its residents have health insurance violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.”

Cato’s Ilya Shapiro declares, “Liberty wins first skirmish in the Obamacare legal battle.”

The American Spectator’s Philip Klein predicts that the “ruling is merely the first stage of the process, which will now enable courts to consider the underlying constitutional questions involved.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano says, “On the merits, we are surprised the judge took as much space to conclude that Virginia stated a valid cause of action, namely, that Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority with the individual mandate. At this stage in the litigation and on the particular motion that was filed … the judge need not and could not rule on who will win or even if one side is more likely to win. The only question is whether Virginia stated a legal cause of action (or legal theory) that is cognizable in law. Virginia certainly has at least a valid substantive theory to challenge the law, because someone with standing is always able to challenge the constitutionality of a statute on the ground that Congress has no constitutional authority to enact it, QED.”

The Corner’s Daniel Foster says the ruling confirms his belief that “Obamacare, and especially the individual mandate, have expanded the reach of federal authority to new and unprecedented heights. But as [Ashby] Jones makes clear, this win, while crucial, is just the first of many that will be required to overturn the mandate, and Obamacare.”

The Apothecary’s Avik Roy cautions, “even if the individual mandate is overturned, it is likely that the courts will rule to preserve the remainder of PPACA. This is strongly implied by the Supreme Court’s June ruling on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in which one provision of the law was struck down, while the rest was preserved. Still, it is encouraging to see that some jurists still believe that there remain limits on the power of the federal government.”

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey predicts: “Expect the Left to go after Judge Hudson. George W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench in 2002, following a career in the state bench and also in the US Marshal Service as director during Bush 41’s administration. The Right showed no reluctance to point out Susan Bolton’s appointment by Bill Clinton, and turnabout is not just fair play but de rigueur by now.”

But so far that’s not happened. Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky ignores the judge’s appointment and instead goes after the Republican legal strategy: “Remember, [Virginia Attorney General Ken] Cuccinelli is claiming that the health care law violates a state measure prohibiting the government from requiring individuals to purchase a health care product. But the injury is self-imposed. Virginia purposely passed a law that contradicted the federal bill, knowing full well that the supremacy clause would invalidate the state law. Now having manufactured the tension out of thin air, the state has a basis, at least according to this judge, to take the federal government to court and engage in the kind of frivolous litigation that Republicans so often deplore. [Republicans] can run around in the days before November 2 claiming that a judge has ruled that there is merit in their challenge and promise to finish off the law if you only vote for them. Republicans are using the courts for purely political ends.”

The American Prospect’s Monica Potts thinks the lawsuits are a losing strategy: “Moreover, it doesn’t seem as though it’s a political winner for states to continue to pursue. Polls show that Bill McCollum, the Florida attorney general who is leading a multi-state lawsuit, might be hurt in his race for governor, and it’s clear more Americans are liking the legislation. While conservative sites are trumpeting today’s news as a big winner, it’s surely likely to remain a big loser.”

And the Obama administration responded as well — Stephanie Cutter writes on “Having failed in the legislative arena, opponents of reform are now turning to the courts in an attempt to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government. This is nothing new. We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act – constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed. So too will the challenge to health reform.”


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