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Virginia ex rel. Cuccinelli v. Sebelius (4th Cir.)

On March 7, 2011, CAC filed a brief in the Fourth Circuit in Virginia ex rel. Cuccinelli v. Sebelius in support of the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. CAC’s brief draws on a treasure trove of documents collected by the University of Virginia as part of the George Washington Papers collection, documents that have provided fresh insight into the views of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and other Founders on the scope of federal powers under the Constitution they helped write.

Our brief demonstrates that the Founders’ Constitution created a national government capable of solving national problems. Under the original meaning of both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause, Congress acted within its constitutional authority in enacting the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage provision.

This case came before the Fourth Circuit on the government’s appeal from the decision of District Judge Henry E. Hudson (E.D. Va.) echoing the popular Tea Party meme that Congress has no authority to compel individuals to purchase health care insurance, and that the minimum coverage provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is therefore unconstitutional.

On September 8, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the challenges to the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the State of Virginia did not have standing to bring the case. 

On June 29, 2012, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. For more information on the Supreme Court's consideration of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, please go here.