Supreme Court Rejects Virginia’s Request for Expedited Hearing on Healthcare Law



The Supreme Court has refused Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request that it take up an appeal of health care reform before a federal appeals court can rule on the case.

Cuccinelli had appealed to the high court in February by invoking Rule 11, a seldom-successful clause that permits immediate review of federal rulings.

“We asked the United States Supreme Court for expedited review of our lawsuit because Virginia and other states are already spending huge sums to implement their portions of the health care act, businesses are already making decisions about whether to cut or keep employee health plans, and citizens are in limbo until the Supreme Court rules,” Cuccinelli said Monday.

“Asking the court to expedite our lawsuit was about removing this crippling and costly uncertainty as quickly as possible.  We were gratified that both Republicans and Democrats in Virginia supported the effort to expedite,” he said.

Two months earlier, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, an appointee of President George W. Bush, became first to rule that a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most Americans to buy health insurance was unconstitutional.

Cuccinelli tried to circumvent the 4th Circuit of Appeals’ intervention in the case after the Obama Administration appealed Hudson’s decision a month later. The 4th Circuit is scheduled to hear the case on May 10.

Rejected without comment

The Supreme Court today rejected Cuccinielli’s maneuver without comment, which almost certainly puts off a ruling on the matter until at least next year.

Attorneys general from more than half the states have filed lawsuits contending that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring citizens to buy health insurance.

Cuccinelli’s appeal of Judge Hudson’s ruling was unusual, since he had won a favorable ruling from the judge. Normally, the losing party files an appeal but Cuccinelli hoped to get the case before the high court as quickly as possible.

The Obama Administration used the opportunity to file a lengthy defense of the law, noting that while the healthcare law may be unusual, so is the market for healthcare services, since no one knows when he or she may suddenly suffer an illness or accident that requires extended, and expensive care.

Federal law now requires hospitals to provide emergency care to anyone in need, a require that cost hospitals at least $43 billion in 2008, the last year for which complete figures are available. The administration argues that the requirement that everyone have health insurance will spread the costs more equitably among all of those who can afford to pay – and that everyone will benefit from the law eventually.

Additionally, the Obama Administration is arguing that Virginia has not stasnding to sue since the healthcare mandate applies to individuals, not to the state.

Other cases

Besides Judge Hudson’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida also found that the law’s so-called individual mandate provision was unconstitutional.

Three other federal judges have upheld the law as constitutional, and more than a dozen other cases have been dismissed for lack of standing.

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About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.