Update on oral arguments in Virginia's challenge to the PPACA
Author: Luke A. Wake
Today the federal district court for the Eastern District of Virginia heard oral arguments on a summary judgment motion in Virginia’s challenge to the new health care law. PLF has filed a brief in support of Virginia’s challenge to the individual mandate provision on behalf of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. PLF argued that the mandate exceeds the scope of the powers Congress has been given under the Constitution; those arguments echoed today in the court room, as Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli made clear that the Founding Fathers would not have ratified the Constitution if it were meant to give Congress the sort of power contemplated by the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act.
This argument falls days after the Northern District of Florida ruled that 20 other Attorneys General could advance their challenge to the mandate, and a little over a week after the Eastern District of Michigan upheld the individual mandate as a necessary and proper means of accomplishing Congress’s goal of regulating the health insurance market. The Michigan court concluded that Congress could regulate the decision to buy health insurance because making a decision not to buy something is an activity affecting interstate commerce, but it appears that the Virginia court is inclined to say that the decision not to buy health insurance is inactivity, and beyond the reach of the federal government. We will obviously have to wait to see how the judge rules, but this decision could be the first to strike down the mandate.
PLF has its own challenge to the individual mandate, as we represent Matt Sissel, a small businessman, and veteran who now objects to being conscripted into this new health care regime. Accordingly, we are following these other proceedings with great interest. The Department of Justice is expected to respond to our challenge on October 18, 2010.
Please continue to follow the PLF Liberty Blog for more health care challenge updates.