Virginia’s Health Care Lawsuit Expedited by Fourth Circuit (Updated)

This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals granted a joint motion by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the Federal Government to move Virginia’s lawsuit against the health care law forward. The case is tentatively scheduled for a hearing between May 10 and 13. The decision to move this case forward came at the request of Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, and House Speaker Bill Howell.

Cuccinelli made this statement, in light of the court’s decision:

Right now, there is a great deal of uncertainty for states, individuals, and businesses. 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.

This could not come at a better time, since the U.S. Senate voted against repeal of the health care law. Voting against repeal was Sen. Jim Webb, and Sen. Mark Warner did not even bother casting a vote. Webb’s decision to vote against repealing the health care law has attracted the attention of his re-election opponents, George Allen and Jamie Radtke.

Allen released the following statement regarding Webb’s vote against repeal.

Jim Webb has once again ignored the voices of Virginians outraged by the federal health care law to side with his liberal friends in Washington. By voting against the repeal of the government run health bill he has ignored the concerns of the courts, the American people and Virginia’s job creators who believe this bill needs to be repealed and replaced with common sense reforms.

“Virginians and Americans would be better served by reforms that will deliver on the promise to make health care more affordable and accessible, including personal health savings accounts, and expanding competition to allow health insurance to be acquired across state lines. As it stands now, the health care law and its odious mandates exceed the constitutional bounds of the federal government and subjects citizens to higher costs, limits their choices and restricts their access to quality health care.

Radtke also released a statement regarding her disappointment in Webb’s vote, saying:

Today Senator Jim Webb voted against Virginians’ wishes and against his own previous statements when he failed to support the repeal of Obamacare.
In January Senator Webb said that the Obama administration ‘did a really terrible job handling health care reform’ – that it made a mistake relying on Congress to draft the plan. In addition, 58% of Americans support repeal of Obamacare and 28 states have filed suit to stop the legislation.

Senator Webb had the chance to back up his words with action and to vote the will of Virginians by repealing Obamacare, and instead Senator Webb let Virginia down.

Obamacare is a disaster for the country and for our healthcare system. What we need are health care reforms that are patient-focused, market-oriented and avoid heavy-handed bureaucratic decision-making.

Webb’s decision to vote against repeal will hurt him in 2012. On the other hand, if the Court of Appeals decides in Virginia and Cuccinelli’s favor, this could be another victory for repealing Obama’s health care law after all.

Update: The attorney general is actually pursuing two tracks. The first is for the case to be heard directly by the Supreme Court. According to the Office of the Attorney General:

Normally, appeals of decisions of United States district courts are first heard in the federal courts of appeals. But Rule 11 provides that an immediate review in the U.S. Supreme Court is permissible “upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in” the Supreme Court.

Cuccinelli justifies this approach by saying “Presently, 28 states have filed suits challenging the authority of Congress to enact this law. That, in and of itself, is exceptional and makes the cases excellent candidates for immediate review in the Supreme Court.”

The second approach, as noted above, is to fast tract the case through the 4th District.

See http://www.vaag.com/PRESS_RELEASES/Cuccinelli/012611_HealthCare_Hearing.html

and http://www.vaag.com/PRESS_RELEASES/Cuccinelli/020311_HealthCare_Expedited.html