Virginia court upholds health reform laws

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, September 8, 2011 12:44 EDT
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After hearing two prominent challenges to the Affordable Care Act, an appeals court in Virginia has decided to uphold the laws and toss both suits on procedural grounds.

Both Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and arch conservative Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University had challenged the federal government’s ability to levy an individual mandate to purchase health insurance.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, threw both suits out on Thursday because the individual mandate does not require the state of Virginia to purchase health insurance, and Virginia was the sole plaintiff in the case.

Ultimately the judges sided with the government and declared the individual mandate part of the federal power to impose taxes, thereby stripping the Fourth Circuit of its jurisdiction in the matter.

The decision could prove to be a sticking point for opponents of the health reform laws, who anticipate the case will be decided by the Supreme Court.

If the nation’s highest court sides with the Fourth Circuit and declares the individual mandate part of the government’s power to tax, it could delay potential challenges to the laws for years as opponents retool their arguments and file new lawsuits.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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