August 2, 2010

The federal district court has denied the motion to dismiss in the Virginia lawsuit challenging the Obamacare individual mandate.

Ilya Somin comments on the opinion, which I'm about to read. I'll have more soon.

ADDED: Half of the opinion is about the state's standing to bring the lawsuit. Judge Hudson wrote that the state was not suing on behalf of taxpayers but based on its own interests defending the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act from preemption by federal law. Under this theory, it doesn't matter that the state of Virginia won't have to pay the penalties the federal law imposes on those who don't buy health insurance. It's enough that Virginia's power to pass its own law has been impinged on by the allegedly unconstitutional federal law. That theory also avoids a problem with the Anti-Injunction Act. The judge also found the case satisfied the ripeness requirement because the issues are "fully framed" and "the underlying facts are well settled."

As for the question whether the individual mandate is supported by the Commerce Clause (with an assist from the Necessary and Proper Clause), the judge elaborates the "widely divergent and at times novel" arguments of the 2 sides and concludes inconclusively that he is not at this time ready to say that Virginia has failed to state a claim. Then there is the alternate power basis for the law, the taxing power. Again the judge lays out the arguments, recites the precedent, and declares the matter too uncertain to resolve as a matter of law on a motion to dismiss. Thus, the case continues.

25 comments:

sunsong said...

Applause!!

Scott said...

I'm glad.

Famous Original Mike said...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!!

Pastafarian said...

It doesn't all look great, though. He ruled that Virginia only has "standing" to challenge the law because it conflicts with existing Virginia state law.

So not all of the other states that have challenged the law will have that standing.

I've never really understood the way rules about "standing" are applied. Wouldn't any citizen who can demonstrate that their own personal finances will be negatively impacted by this law have standing?

Big Mike said...

Go Ken Cuccinelli!

I knew he had to be a good guy after the Washington Post pulled out all the stops to try to slander him during the election.

Original Mike said...

Famous Original Mike: Are you mocking me, sir?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Doesn't much matter what the courts decide. I will refuse to voluntarily pay my federal income taxes as long as this law is in existence (and as long as felony tax cheat Tim Geithner is a free man).

I will not be forced to purchase insurance products from Democrat Party campaign donors.

Full. Fucking. Stop.

Repeal this law, or I won't volunteer to pay federal income tax ever again.

That's my final offer.

Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Repeal this law, or I won't volunteer to pay federal income tax ever again.

So you'll go to prison. That's the government's final offer.

mesquito said...

This, too, will dissolve and dissipate in the entrails of The Living Constitution.

Mick said...

Not that anyone cares about the constitution or anything, especially the Usurper(his father was NEVER a citizen, so he certainly can't be a Natural Born Citizen.), but doesn't A3S2C2 say that since the STATE (Commonwealth) of VA. is a party to this lawsuit that primary jurisdiction belongs in the SCOTUS?
And same with the AZ. Immigration lawsuit. Why is being tried in Federal Court?

A3S2C2 USC:

"In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

DKWalser said...

I've never really understood the way rules about "standing" are applied. Wouldn't any citizen who can demonstrate that their own personal finances will be negatively impacted by this law have standing?

Yes, that would give each individual standing to sue. It wouldn't, in and of itself, give a state standing to sue. For the state to have standing, the state's interests (not the interests of individual residents of the state) must be at issue. Does that make sense?

Richard Dolan said...

This decision is an interesting exercise in the 'common law constitutionalism' discussed by Prof Vermeule in an earlier post today. The text of the Constitution is too vague to help here, and it gets only a passing reference. Instead, the court parses conflicting lines of authority about the scope of the Commerce and Tax Clauses, and concludes that, yes indeed, the cases are in conflict. Since both lines of cases are consistent with the (very spare) constitutional text, the decision will necessarily turn on something other than what the Constitution says. We're into the never- neverland of 'higher constitutional values.'

The substantive decision is, of course, for another day since this ruling just disposes of the gov't's dismissal motion. But that's only because the parties decided to put the case in that procedural posture. It's hard to see what factual issues requiring discovery are presented here, or why the substantive issues couldn't have been decided now. The judge says that this case pushes the Commerce and Tax Clauses beyond where they have ever gone before -- con law is now on a Star Trek mission. Whether the court ultimately upholds the 'individual mandate' will most likely turn on the judge's view of whether 'limited powers' or 'modern needs' is the higher constitutional value. Since the Constitution lacks any scale that one can use to determine which 'values' expressly or implicitly in it are higher or lower, this is by definition a game without possibility of a definitive answer. While that fact suggests to me that this case raises an essentially political matter, the courts have long taken a different view.

Stayed tuned. The fun is just beginning.

Mick said...

Richard Dolan said,

"The text of the Constitution is too vague to help here,"


Looks pretty clear to me, unless of course relativism has muddied the meaning of all truth.

A3S2C2:
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

"In ALL cases where the state shall be a party, the SCOTUS SHALL SHALL SHALL have ORIGINAL JURISDICTION." I guess that would usually mean that this should be in the SCOTUS not Fedreal court.

Richard Dolan said...

Mick: Original jurisdiction does not mean exclusive jurisdiction. 28 USC 1251(b) provides that the SCOTUS has original and exclusive jurisdiction over only one class of cases: "controversies between two or more States." The District Court has original jurisdiction because the case raises a federal question. 28 USC 1331.

It is a commonplace in the law that more than one court can have original jurisdiction over a case or controversy.

A.W. said...

Okay, dumb question… if there are literally no facts in dispute, why is this still going on?

What facts do they expect the trial to discover? That Virginia is a commonwealth? That health care is really, really important? That our president is kind of an economic idiot?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"So you'll go to prison. That's the government's final offer."

First, that's not their final offer, but even if it is, I'm willing to accept that offer. I'll gladly be a political prisoner before I'll buy one Goddamned cent of their fucking donor's product.

Got that?

AprilApple said...

"Repeal this law, or I won't volunteer to pay federal income tax ever again."

"So you'll go to prison. That's the government's final offer."


Build more prisons. Count me as one who will campaign to refuse participation.

Kirby Olson said...

Ann, can't you tell us what this means? I mean, is this good for the left, or good for the right? Is Obama relaxing with a drink, or is he furious?

If Virginia's challenge succeeds, does the law flop, and all of Obama's hard work at getting his lazy flaccid bill through the hoops for naught?

What are the chances of this? I read this, and felt dismayed to not know more.

Eric said...

I've never really understood the way rules about "standing" are applied. Wouldn't any citizen who can demonstrate that their own personal finances will be negatively impacted by this law have standing?

The way it seems to work is no matter how expensive or intrusive the program, if I don't like it nobody has standing.

Pastafarian said...

You know, something about this reminds me of the judge in the Arizona case. She asked questions that made it seem as though she was going to rule on the side of Arizona; but this turned out to be some sort of act she was putting on so that people would remember how she had considered both sides.

(That sounds partisan, but I recall at the time that this seemed pretty transparent -- the tone of her questions was just a little too harsh for a rational person to suddenly reverse field).

So I wouldn't be at all surprised if this judge rules in favor of the federal government.

Revenant said...

I'll gladly be a political prisoner before I'll buy one Goddamned cent of their fucking donor's product.

Eesh. Between Mick's birther bullshit and New Ham's "prison first!" schtick folks are doing a good job making it look like only lunatics and idiots oppose ObamaCare.

Mick said...

Richard Dolan said...
"Mick: Original jurisdiction does not mean exclusive jurisdiction. 28 USC 1251(b) provides that the SCOTUS has original and exclusive jurisdiction over only one class of cases: "controversies between two or more States." The District Court has original jurisdiction because the case raises a federal question. 28 USC 1331."


Thankyou.

Mick said...

Revenant said...
"I'll gladly be a political prisoner before I'll buy one Goddamned cent of their fucking donor's product.

Eesh. Between Mick's birther bullshit and New Ham's "prison first!" schtick folks are doing a good job making it look like only lunatics and idiots oppose ObamaCare."

"Who are Schtick folks"?
So WHERE does it say that anyone born in the US (if the Usurper was, and when is a pic on a website proof of anything?) is a Natural Born Citizen, eligible to be POTUS? (Certainly not the 14th Amendment, and certainly not Wong Kim Ark.) WHERE does it say it? Which SCOTUS decision or statute, genius? The Usurper is running roughshod over all you whiners, when you have the ability to unseat him in your hands.

AprilApple said...

ObamaCare is opposed by a clear majority in this nation. Clearly, 60%-70% of this nation's inhabitants are all lunatics.


Standard lazy lefty line: If you don't agree with left-wing group think and corrupt left-wing politics, you're crazy.