Appeals court to hear Va. health-care suit in May
A judge has agreed to expedite the federal appeals court hearing for Virginia's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care overhaul and will hold probably hold oral arguments in the case sometime between May 10 and 13, according to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R).
Cuccinelli said Virginia and lawyers for the Obama administration jointly asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to speed the hearing process and have agreed they will file opening briefs in the matter Feb. 28, response briefs March 28 and reply briefs April 11.
Cuccinelli won the first round of the suit in December, when U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the central plank of the federal law, the requirement that individuals become insured by 2014, is unconstitutional. The federal government is appealing the ruling. Hudson, meanwhile, also ruled that the rest of the law can stand despite his opinion of the individual insurance mandate. Cuccinelli would like the appeals court to review that decision. The law's constitutionality will probably be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Right now, there is a great deal of uncertainty for states, individuals and businesses," Cuccinelli said in a statement.
"Major decisions are already being made and money is already being spent to comply with a law that may not be around two years from now. We need this suit resolved as quickly as possible, for the good of our citizens and our economy."
In the statement, Cuccinelli said he is deciding whether to attempt to bypass the appellate court and ask the Supreme Court to take up the issue immediately. Though federal rules allow the request, it is exceedingly rare for the Supreme Court to grant such motions, and most legal experts believe they would be unlikely to do so in this case.
Rosalind S. Helderman
| January 26, 2011; 4:52 PM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman
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