UPDATE 2-US appeals court questions Obama healthcare lawsuit

Tue May 10, 2011 1:25pm EDT

* Obama lawyers try to reinstate individual mandate

* Court to weigh whether entire law should be struck down

* Court's ruling may influence other healthcare cases (Adds details from oral arguments)

By Jeremy Pelofsky and Lisa Lambert

RICHMOND, Va., May 10 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday sharply questioned whether the state of Virginia could challenge President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, which requires Americans to buy insurance.

Virginia passed a law barring the federal government from making its citizens buy insurance, and in December the state won a federal judge's ruling that the insurance purchase requirement was unconstitutional.

The case is the first to reach oral arguments at a federal appeals court and experts have said a ruling here could influence other pending challenges to the healthcare law, including a June 8 hearing by another appeals court. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday questioned whether a state could pass a law to buck a federal mandate, saying that could lead to states challenging many other federal requirements, such as sending troops to war.

"A state could challenge any federal statute in court as long as the state passed a law?" asked Judge Diana Motz. All three judges hearing the case were appointed by Democrats, including two by Obama.


Lawyers for Virginia countered that that the healthcare law threatened the state's sovereignty and that the state law was an attempt to protect its citizens.

"The flip side is that state can't sue ever," Duncan Getchell, solicitor general for Virginia told Motz. "I don't know why it's a low trick to pass a law."

The healthcare law passed last year was a major victory for Obama, one that the Republican party is working to undo in the courts, statehouses and Congress.

Obama's Republican opponents are expected to make the issue a theme during his 2012 reelection bid by arguing it is a costly and unnecessary government expansion. They have already sought to repeal and choke off funds for the law in Congress.

The Obama administration's top appellate lawyer, acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, told the appeals court that allowing Virginia's challenge to go forward would inject the states into the federal courts over "abstract political disputes."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on June 8 will weigh the Obama administration's appeal to a decision that struck down the entire healthcare law as sought by 26 states. (Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (6)
true123 wrote:
This is wrong minded on several counts. unconstitutional seems like the biggest one that jumps out. Also this is the wrong time to be raising taxes on folks when the economy is in the dumps. Most folks having a hard time paying for other essentials instead of another tax. This in itself is just another tax or revenue stream for the government.. It will be raised and used for other purposes as most other taxes are. Most of the democrats in congress were fired over this during the last election. Last but by no means least!! Freedom, Instead of our public servants being there to serve the common interest they are now in the business of tell everyone what to do? Not a champion of the forgotten people, and another house of cards. How are they ever going to enforce this? we’ll spend more time and money enforcing this mess then it’s worth.

May 10, 2011 8:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
oldhiggy wrote:
Of course the administration will save this law. It was their baby from the start. When is is ruled unconstitutional they are going to look like the idiots that they are. Do you remember the former Speaker of the House saying that “we have to pass this bill to see what is in it”??? While there is some good in the healthcare law, most of it looks like failed programs from Europe. If this didn’t work there how can it work here!!!!????

May 10, 2011 9:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ricksterd64 wrote:
Talk about helping insurance companies and not the average american. I wonder how much the insurance companies paid lobbyist to get the government to pass a law that says we all have to buy their product? This is unconstitutional beyond a doubt but our government is so corrupt that it will be a tough fight

May 10, 2011 9:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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