Author: Daniel Himebaugh
A federal district court denied the federal government's motion to dismiss the State of Virginia's lawsuit challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act today, citing the need to resolve the "complex constitutional issues" that the case presents.
On the issue of jurisdiction, the court found that Virginia proved both standing and ripeness, and that the state's claims are not barred by the notoriously inflexible Anti-Injunction Act. On the merits, the court found that the federal government did not show that Virginia failed to state a viable legal claim, noting that the challenged law "literally forges new ground and extends Commerce Clause powers beyond its current high watermark." Virginia's case should now move to a resolution on the merits.
What today's ruling demonstrates is that, despite dead set certainty on the part of critics, constitutional challenges to the health care law cannot be brushed aside. In the court's words:
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. Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue. No reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person's decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce. Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side's position, this Court cannot conclude at this stage that the Complaint fails to state a cause of action.
PLF has been in the health care fight from the start, and recently filed our own lawsuit challenging the individual mandate created under the new law.