The decisions of U.S. District Courts in several lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act have been appealed to U.S. Courts of Appeals around the country. The first of these to be argued before a U.S. Appellate Court will be argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond Virginia, on Tuesday, May 10.
The lawsuits to be argued on Tuesday include Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, principally based on allegations against the individual insurance mandate in the Act, as well as a lawsuit that was brought by Liberty University, a Conservative Christian institution.
Cuccinelli’s lawsuit is being appealed by the U.S. Government, after a ruling last year by a federal district court judge in Richmond, Virginia, finding the individual insurance mandate beyond the authority of Congress under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and therefore unconstitutional. The other lawsuit, brought by Liberty University, is being appealed by the University, from a ruling of another federal district court judge, in Lynchburg, Virginia, that upheld the law.
In an indication of the importance the U.S. Government is placing on this litigation, the appeal will be argued for the U.S. Government by Acting Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal. While not unprecedented, it is unusual for the U.S. Solicitor General to argue cases in U.S. Appeals Courts. Conservative blogs have pointed out that the Solicitor General usually argues cases only before the U.S. Supreme Court.
E. Duncan Getchell Jr., Virginia’s solicitor general, will argue before the Fourth Circuit for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Dean of Liberty University’s law school will argue for the University.
HelpingYouCare™ has obtained copies of two of the briefs filed by the parties with the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the appeal of Cuccinelli’s Virginia lawsuit, which is officially titled: COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, EX REL. KENNETH T. CUCCINELLI, II, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Virginia, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in her official capacity, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, Case Nos. 11-1057 & 11-1058.
Here is the RESPONSE/REPLY BRIEF FOR APPELLANT filed by the U.S. Government; and
The arguments on appeal are expected mainly to center around whether Congress has constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause to order most Americans to purchase health insurance (some with financial assistance) by 2014, or face a tax penalty. However, the U.S. Government also challenges whether the Commonwealth of Virginia had legal standing to challenge the Health Care Law. Other issues on appeal include: whether the individual insurance mandate can be supported under Congress’ authority to tax, whether it may violate First Amendment requirements of Freedom of Religion (asserted by Liberty University), whether employers can be required to contribute to their workers’ health coverage, and whether the insurance mandate can be severed from the remainder of the law, or whether a finding against one provision of the law such as the insurance mandate must invalidate the entire Health Care Law.
Following decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, this litigation is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court previously refused to accept an attempt by Cuccinelli to bypass the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Democrats’ signature domestic achievement by the summer of 2012, handing Republicans a powerful weapon in a presidential year if it strikes down the mandate or even the entire law,” according to the Conservative-leaning blog, The Hill.
According to reporting by the New York Times, a total of 31 lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act have been brought since its enactment in March 2010.
Three federal district judges, all appointed by Democratic Presidents, have upheld the law, while two federal district judges, both appointed by Republican Presidents, have struck down all or part of the Law. For more on these rulings, see our previous reports:
According to the New York Times, nine of the 31 cases filed against the Health Care Law are currently awaiting some type of action by U.S. Courts of Appeals, nine remain pending in federal district courts, and the rest of the 31 cases originally filed have been dismissed.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear an appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of the law, on June 1. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will consider an appeal of the Florida judge’s ruling that invalidated the entire Law, on June 8. As referenced in our previous article linked above, the Florida judge later stayed (suspended enforcement of) his own decision until the matter can be settled in higher courts.
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