Friday, April 29, 2011

High Court declines to speed up reform challenge

This week the Supreme Court denied a request to review a State of Virginia challenge to the ACA before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has the opportunity to hear and rule on the case (Virginia, Ex. Rel. Cuccinelli v. Sebelius, Sec. of HHS, cert. denied, S. Ct. 10-1014).

In December 2010, a district court in Virginia ruled the ACA was unconstitutional (Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius, No. 3:10CV188-HEH). That case was appealed, but subsequently Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli asked the Supreme Court to hear the case immediately.

The April 25 denial was expected, because the Supreme Court rarely allows a case to skip the appellate courts. This is the second time the High Court has declined to accelerate an ACA challenge.

Arguments are scheduled to be heard in the Fourth Circuit case on May 10, along with oral arguments in another Virginia case in which the ACA was declared constitutional (Liberty University v. U.S., Case No. 6:10-cv-00015-nkm).

Lineup of cases. In addition to the two Virginia cases, three other courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the ACA itself.

The 11th Circuit has agreed to an accelerated briefing schedule in State of Florida v. U.S. Dept. of HHS (11-11021-HH), in which the district court declared the entire ACA unconstitutional. The court has required all briefings to be filed by May 25, and the case is scheduled to be heard on June 8.

In Thomas More Law Center, et al. v. Obama (No. 10-CV-11156), the district court held that the ACA did not violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The case is scheduled to be heard by 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 1.

Finally, the individual mandate in the ACA was upheld by a district court in Margaret Peggy Lee Mead, et al. v. Holder, et al. (No. 10-950). An appeal was filed with the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 1, 2011.

Go here for more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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