Health Care Reform

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed two lawsuits that challenged the constitutionality of the federal health care law.

The judges had heard an appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling declaring that the federal mandate for most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty is unconstitutional.

During oral arguments in May, Virginia and Liberty University had urged the 4th Circuit to uphold Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling striking down the mandate.

The three-judge panel did not address the mandate’s constitutionality, but ruled that both do not have standing to bring the lawsuit … and said allowing such lawsuits made the states “roving constitutional watchdogs.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had argued that the Commonwealth does have that right because of its state law establishing that Virginians cannot be compelled to buy health insurance.  The Attorney General has said that rather than asking the full 4th Circuit to hear the case, he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two other Appeals Courts have also handed down decisions.  The Sixth Circuit upheld the federal law, while the 11th Circuit struck down the individual mandate in a lawsuit representing 26 states.

–Anne Marie Morgan

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