Federal Judge Allows Virginia Lawsuit Challenging the Constitutionality of Health Care Legislation To Proceed

Yesterday, a federal district court judge in Virginia declined to dismiss a challenge brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the “individual mandate” contained in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the historic health care reform law enacted earlier this year. The ruling, by Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia, was not a decision on the merits of the state’s arguments but rather a procedural ruling that allows the lawsuit to proceed.

Specifically, yesterday’s ruling allows Cuccinelli to make his argument that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to require individuals to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.  However, this is an argument that is contrary to constitutional text and history.  As CAC has written about extensively – both in our Issue Brief entitled The States, Health Care Reform, and the Constitution, and, more recently, in this installment our blog series, Strange Brew: The Constitution According to the Tea Party – Congress’ power to pass health care reform that includes an individual mandate is firmly rooted in the Constitution, and in particular in the provisions in Article I, section 8 authorizing Congress to regulate interstate commerce and to tax and spend for the general welfare, as well as to enact laws that are necessary and proper in exercising its other powers.

Please stay tuned to Text & History for additional updates on this lawsuit.