Appellate Panel to Hear Suits Filed by the State of Virginia Over Federal Health-Care Law

Appellate Panel to Hear Suits Filed by the State of Virginia Over Federal Health-Care Law

5/20/2011

Oral arguments over the constitutionality of the country’s health-care overhaul will be heard by a three-judge appellate court panel Tuesday morning. This developed after lawsuits challenging the federal law climbed up the legal ladder and will likely end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Over 30 lawsuits challenging the federal law’s constitutionality have been filed across the nation. Two cases will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond.

A lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II on the state’s behalf argues that the U.S. Congress exceeded its constitutional mandate with a provision of the law requiring individuals to buy health insurance by 2014 or be fined.

The other lawsuit was filed by Liberty University, a private religious college in Lynchburg, objecting to the directive placed on its employees.

Contradictory rulings were offered by District Court judges in the two cases. Judge Norman K. Moon, appointed by President Clinton to the bench, upheld the health-care law’s constitutionality in the Liberty case.

On the other hand, Judge Henry E. Hudson, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, ruled that the insurance mandate is in violation of the Constitution.

While a ruling is not expected from the appellate court on Tuesday, the tone of their questions might shed a light on their line of thought.

According to Kevin Walsh, a former clerk on the 4th Circuit and University of Richmond School of Law assistant professor, the first thing that the lawyers must do is check the identity of the panel members. “You’re prepared for every judge. But since you know your fate rests in the hands of these in particular, you study the book on these judges and try to make the arguments that are most appealing to them,” said Walsh.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com