August 2nd, 2010
04:21 PM ET
13 years ago

Virginia health care lawsuit can proceed, judge rules

Washington (CNN) – The Commonwealth of Virginia will be allowed to continue its constitutional challenge to the health care bill signed into law by President Obama earlier this year, a federal trial court ruled Monday.

Judge Henry Hudson ruled in a 32-page opinion that the legal challenge mounted by Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli should be allowed to continue. The state argues that part of the health care bill – Section 1501, which requires individuals to obtain a minimum level of health insurance – is unconstitutional.

"While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate - and tax - a citizen's decision not to participate in interstate commerce," Hudson wrote in his opinion. "Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue."

Cuccinelli voiced his approval of the judge's ruling in a statement issued after the court ruled.

"We are pleased that Judge Hudson agreed that Virginia has the standing to move forward with our suit and that our complaint alleged a valid claim." Cuccinelli said.

But Monday's ruling is a narrow one that only allows the lawsuit to continue. The merits of the state's case will be argued in a full hearing at a later date. It's a fact the White House pointed to in a blog post dedicated to the court's decision.

"Now that this preliminary stage has ended, the government fully expects to prevail on the merits," White House aide Stephanie Cutter wrote. "The Affordable Care Act falls well within Congress's power to regulate under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause. As President Reagan's Solicitor General Charles Fried recently wrote, 'the health care law's enemies have no ally in the Constitution.' "

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state is looking forward to a full hearing.

"I applaud today's decision allowing Virginia's constitutional challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to move forward. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has brought forward a specific and narrowly tailored objection to the Act. It warrants a full and thorough hearing in our courts. It is meritorious and constitutionally correct," McDonnell said in a statement.

–CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care • issues • President Obama • Virginia
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Jess C

    Four & the Door: Who do you think pays for emergency room visits for those who don't have coverage? That's right, we all do. Also, I hope you don't have a kid with a pre-existing condition that allows insurance to deny coverage, because I know someone who does and no carrier would cover them without this bill. Would you like to lose everything you own to pay for hospital bills? I love how some of you claim to be "christians" but have no regard for anyone but yourselves.

    August 2, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. eric in texas


    Any person, no matter who you are, regardless of insurance or not, can be seen for ANY MEDICAL CONDITION by going to the Emergency Room. And don't worry, my insurance company helps to cover the cost of your bill. AND THAT IS FACT!!!

    August 2, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Scott from WI

    As a progressive I agree that it should be found unconstitutional and should be thrown back to be done properly. This bill was a half-measure, watered down with compromise to the point of impotency. We should accept nothing less that universal single payer coverage.

    August 2, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Marcus

    eric in texas – Did you got your facts somewhere, and if you did please tell us from where, or did you just make them out of your mind (i.e. LIED)?
    'B. Universal Healthcare won't work in a country with mass amounts of people on welfare who won't work to pay into the system. Look at other countries.
    Canada: Private insurance companies being allowed BACK in because they are going bankrupt,'
    WHEN DID CANADA FORBID PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE? Just when? They have problems? Oh yeah they have, the system is NOT perfect and they are the first to admit it. Why? Because they always are IMPROVING it, see the problems and fixc them not just throw away the system because it's not perfect...

    'France: Going Bankrupt,'
    Last time I checked the economical problems in Europe are related to the current Global economic crisis, NOT their health care system.

    'Britian: Going bankrupt.'
    Same as France. And BTW, both governments are working on necessary (yet clearly unpopular) plans for cut their expenses on their health care systems. NOT becuase it doesn't work, just because their countries (thanks to the crisis) has not enough money to pay for them.

    'Only place that is doing well is Russia and that is because EVERYONE works there. They work somewhere.'
    After lying about the Canadians, the French and the Brits you decide to offend them? Marvelous post... NOT.

    August 2, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. eric in texas

    You wanna fix the insurance industry. Fix the BOGUS pre-existing condition stuff. My wife was denied insurance coverage because she was diagnosed with Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (high BP when you are pregnant). No pregnancy, no BP issues. She was denied when she was over a year post pregnancy and her MD had said, no more BP issues. THIS is the major problem. This type of stupidity. We don't need UNIVERSAL healthcare. What we need is for the lazy, hands out, I refuse to go better myself so you need to take care of me generation to be PUT TO WORK!!

    August 2, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Jess C

    For those who think they have a right to not be covered by medical insurance, are you able to pay for emergency or daily hospital care should the need arise rather than expect the rest of us to cover it for you? What's your plan?

    August 2, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. W.B

    This is a waste of tax payers monies. The Health care Bill has been vetted by constitutional lawyers and scholars. Yawn.............

    August 2, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Patriot

    Ken Cucinelli's said this lawsuit was going to cost only $350 and not take Commonwealth resources from other priorties. Right.

    Well, at least the Commonwealth found enough money to reopen the rest stops on I81..... yup, the money sliced from school budgets and the disabled to pay for these right wing follies is a joke.

    For only the second time in 26 years of residency, am utterly embarrased by the stupidity and naked politics of the Commonwealth's leadership.

    August 2, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. jay

    I guess Virginia wants the Insurance Industry to continue to rob us blind, the rich look out for only the rich.

    August 2, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. independent

    Any other federal laws we don't like? How about induction? Taxes?

    August 2, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "We are pleased that Judge Hudson agreed that Virginia has the standing to move forward with our suit and that our complaint alleged a valid claim."

    Here's an alternative scenario: Maybe they are using Virgina's suit as the "let's put this to rest once and for all" trial case. In the hopes to avert the useless expenditure of taxpayer's money on a frivolous lawsuit.

    Maybe, just maybe, they are letting you take your "case" to court so that the fed's lawyerscan rake you over the coals and in so doing discourage any other "mavericky" state from trying to take away healthcare from those that can now FINALLY have access to it.

    Ya' think?

    August 2, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. a health economist

    @ eric in texas,

    And where do you think the insurance companies get the money to pay for those without healthcare that go to the ER? From their insurees, i.e. all of us with insurance. When their costs go up they simply raise their premiums. You may work in the health care industry, but so do I. And I'd be willing to bet this is an area of the health care industry I know just a little bit more than you.

    All health care providers will shift their costs on to those that can and are willing to pay more. Just like any other industry. Costs for Medicare patients get shifted to those with private insurance. Uncompensated ER care is the same.

    August 2, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Bobby Ray

    If you don't want universal healthcare-stay away from hospitals and doctors-and no changing your mind if you get hurt or sick. If you want out, stay out forever and always. Or we can decide to look out for each other and share our burdens for the benefit of all mankind.

    August 2, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Chandler02

    Ummm...what does this Judge think that Social Security and Medicare are? We are all taxed for that, and they are interstate programs. Secondly, the law allows STATES to create their own program in place of the Federal one. This judgement is just political blather.

    August 2, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    The health care reform bill falls under the mandate of government to "promote the general welfare" as stated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

    The health care reform bill also protects citizens from the predatory practices of health insurance company monopolies, who decide who lives and who dies, based on how it would affect their shareholders' investment.

    August 2, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Leeta


    August 2, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. sister of a soldier

    As you all say, we the taxpayers do pay for those not insured. BUT, Obama has and continues to trample on the constitution. While we desperately need health care reform, he did not accomplish anything where cost control is concerned. Nor has he offended his lawyer friends by attacking all the malpractice suits which drive up medical costs. Republicans want health care reform but please go to the root of the problem and address it. We need to lower costs, not allow them to continue out of control. We, with insurance, also need to be responsibile and not abuse ER's unless warrented. Obama is failing at all his solutions cause their cost will be felt by all including those struggling. Stop the band aid approach to our country's situation!

    August 2, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    Jess C August 2nd, 2010 5:26 pm ET

    Four & the Door: Who do you think pays for emergency room visits for those who don't have coverage? That's right, we all do.
    Be prepared to pay more and wait longer for lower quality care. I said I was for universal coverage, just not the way the Democrats did it. They crammed through a poorly crafted bill that just saddles future generations with the problems of just adding more people to the inefficient system we have and sticking the taxpayers with the extra cost. We can do better.

    August 2, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. marxist dogs are out of control

    So Bobby Ray – what your saying is I will not have to be paying the taxes being imposed by the Imam Obama. That sounds good to me. I can take the tax refund for my non-use of Obama healthcare and go to a doctor of my choice ? Rather than having to go to one dictated to me by the Imam. Sounds good.

    August 2, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. a health economist

    Comparing mandatory health insurance to the fact that we don't have to have car insurance is comparing apples to oranges. If you don't drive a car you can't get into a car accident. You can still get sick if you don't have health insurance.

    Additionally, if you don't have car insurance and you drive a car and get into an accident you can be found liable. Should we then sue people with communicable diseases that do not have health insurance and spread the disease to others? Seems reasonable to me.

    August 2, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Frank

    Eric in Texas: you may work in the medical field, but your facts (and math) is simply incorrect. What we who have coverage pay for office visits and hospital and medical procedures is simply a function of the pricing for those by the hospital and physician communities PLUS a large administrative profit for the insurance carriers. No way does it pay for three others people, and those who obtain services in emergency rooms without paying are indeed paid for by the insureds-since the carriers charge the premiums base in response to the (wholesale) charges it pays to physicians and hospitals. These are the facts.

    August 2, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "There will be a ton of misinformation and gloating on BOTH sides! This will be spun by the right AND the left!"

    Actually, you're proven wrong by the article itself. The WH's response was objective and cleraly did not read anything into it...just stated that they still remain confident it will be upheld. Pay close attention to what Boehner or Beaker have to say though and compare it.

    BTW, equivocating both sides is precisely what the GOP wants you to do. They have moved and continue to move towards the extreme right of their political base and they are COUNTING on you continnuing to equivocate as some form of "independent enlightenment." Why? Because when they move right, it shifts the middle ground to the right, and as long as you insist on equivocating while they move to the right with the Teatards, et al., you will continue to equate the "center" with the perceived "middle ground" and thereby move right along with the shifting center. There's no badge of enlightenment to be earned for automatically saying "both sides are wrong!" and claiming to be an "independent." The GOP's strategy is precisely what I've just described and has been since 2008 started to go badly for them. How do you capture the independent vote? Play to their weaknesses of hating government, distrusting both sides and always aiming at the "middle ground."

    August 2, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. normajean

    One question. If half of the people refused to get health care , what happens when they need it ? Talk about wellfare. .If they can afford a minimum , they should be required to get it.If you are not covered by insurance in any form and are cared for by emergency whatever, indirectly the rest of us pay. the insurance companies do NOT pick up the bill for the uninsured ! Whomever said otherwise is incorrect!

    August 2, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. sally

    I think this ruling is going to be hurtful to the rest of the country and to Virginians who have no health insurance and go without adequate health care. This is typical rightwing thinking that has stymied this country for years. If the government can't do this, then they certainly can't wage a war without voting on it...or doing anything else. It's disgusting selfishness!

    August 2, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. Dano

    If this works what's to stop a state from bringing a lawsuit to get it's residents out of paying SSI & Medicare payroll deductions? Why stop there? Who says a state – or a bank – can force people to have home or auto insurance? You would think the personal responsibility people would think this was a great idea.

    August 2, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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