An entirely predictable response from the Federal Government to Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against ObamaCare:
RICHMOND — The Obama administration asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss Virginia’s challenge of the health-care overhaul law, arguing that the state has no standing to sue over the law and that Congress’s power to regulate interstate trade makes the measure constitutional.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) filed suit against the act moments after President Obama signed it into law in March. His suit is separate from a broader effort filed in Florida that includes 20 states.
Cuccinelli argued that Virginia was uniquely positioned to challenge the measure because of a law, adopted by the General Assembly this year, stating that individuals could not be forced to buy health insurance in Virginia.
But in a 39-page brief filed late Monday in U.S. District Court, attorneys acting on behalf of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote that Virginia’s law was an attempt to nullify the federal statute and did not create the legal conflict necessary to enable the state to sue.
“If states could manufacture standing in the way Virginia attempts to do here, every policy dispute lost in the legislative arena could be transformed into an issue for decision by the courts,” they wrote.
Federal attorneys argued that individuals, not the state, are affected by the requirement to buy health insurance, meaning that the state has no standing to sue over the issue. Further, they wrote that the mandate causes no injury to the state and will not take effect until 2014, making the legal challenge not yet timely.
In a statement, Cuccinelli conceded that federal laws generally trump state laws, but he said the conflict between the federal law and Virginia’s statute gave him a “duty” to file suit.
The contours of the federal argument in defense of the health-care law have long been clear. But Monday’s motion represented the first opportunity for the Obama administration to submit those arguments to a judge. It came before similar motions in the Florida lawsuit because Cuccinelli filed his suit in the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the “rocket docket” — where attorneys face short timelines from judges to file legal motions.
Virginia has until June 7 to file a response.
The Federal Government’s argument generally can be summarized as follows:
- Virginia lacks standing to challenge the law
- The health care reform law, specifically including the insurance mandates, is a property exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause
- The insurance mandate is a proper exercise of Congressional power under the taxation power.
Now, it’s entirely possible that the Court could rule that Virginia loses on the first ground, which means the suit would get dismissed without ruling on the actual substances of the lawsuit, but I don’t think that’s likely.
The Judge assigned to the case is Henry Hudson, a Bush appointee to the District Court. I appeared before Judge Hudson many times when he say on the Fairfax County Circuit Court, and I can attest that, however he rules, he will be thorough.
Here’s a copy of the Motion, which I have yet to read in full: