RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s health care reform law cleared its first legal hurdle on Monday, August 2, as a federal judge ruled the law raises a host of complex constitutional issues.
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson’s decision stemmed from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s claims that Congress exceeded its authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by requiring citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
Hudson’s ruling denied the Justice Department’s attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed.
“The mere existence of the lawfully-enacted statute is sufficient to trigger the duty of the Attorney General of Virginia to defend the law and the associated sovereign power to enact it,” Hudson wrote. “Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America.”
Cuccinelli announced in March that he would challenge the national law. More than a dozen other state attorneys general have filed a separate lawsuit challenging the federal law, but Virginia’s lawsuit is the first to go before a judge.
Hudson said Virginia’s case raises several complex constitutional issues – mainly whether Congress has the right to regulate and tax a person’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation this year exempting state residents from the federal coverage mandate.