The U.S. Justice Department Jan. 18 announced it is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge striking down as unconstitutional the mandate of President Obama’s health care reform legislation which requires an individual to have health insurance.
In his Dec. 18 ruling Judge Henry Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, characterized in harsh words the measure, known as the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision.
“The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,” Hudson said. “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”
The Justice Department will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn the Hudson ruling.
Opponents of the health care law are not happy, either. Hudson’s ruling didn’t go far enough, according to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli, a Republican, has also filed an appeal, but his motion seeks invalidation of the entire health care reform legislation passed last year.
Cuccinelli, who filed a suit seeking an injunction to strike the individual insurance mandate, wants to see the statute declared unconstitutional. Hudson’s ruling stopped short of that, addressing only the challenge to the insurance mandate. .
“From the very beginning of this fight, I have said that the matter can only be resolved in the Supreme Court of the United States,” Cuccinelli wrote in a letter to constituents. “We have taken but one step towards that end, and the fight is far from over. However, while the ultimate fight will not be resolved for some time, we certainly take heart in the fact that we have won the first round.”
The next day the Republican-controlled U.S. House voted to repeal the health care reform legislation, but the action is expected to die in the Senate.
Despite the efforts to repeal it, the Obama Justice Department stands by the law, saying that they believe it will survive attempts on Capitol Hill and in the courts to overturn it. .
“There is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing the Affordable Care Act, and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told Bloomberg News.