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Judge Won’t Block Virginia Challenge to Health Reform

August 3, 2010

The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that a federal judge in Richmond, Va, refused yesterday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Virginia attorney general challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care reform law.

The ruling is the first such decision in what may be years of lawsuits over the question of whether Congress has the power to regulate “ and tax “ a citizen’s decision not to buy health insurance.

US District Judge Henry Hudson said that neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals had addressed that question. Existing legal precedents are inconclusive, he said.

“Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side’s position, this court cannot conclude at this stage that the complaint fails to state a cause of action,” Judge Hudson wrote in a 32-page opinion, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The legal action came as a response to a request by Justice Department lawyers that the Virginia lawsuit be tossed. The ruling clears the way for an Oct. 18 federal court hearing in Richmond, Va., on whether the national health care law complies with requirements of the United States Constitution or exceeds the powers granted to Congress.

“This lawsuit is not about health care, it’s about our freedom,” said Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. “The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the commerce clause.”

The Obama health plan requires Americans to purchase private health insurance at a certain level of coverage or pay a penalty or tax for their refusal.

The mandatory insurance provision takes effect in 2014.

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