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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Ken Cuccinelli said in a news release that he would file the appeal Friday.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously dismissed Cuccinelli's lawsuit on Sept. 8, ruling that Virginia lacked legal standing to file the complaint. The court did not rule on the core issue - the constitutionality of the law's requirement that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty
starting in 2014. Cuccinelli said immediately after the ruling that he would appeal.
The Obama administration already has appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling by the federal appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the insurance mandate.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:
"The Founding Fathers fully intended that the states would serve as a check on federal power. When the Fourth Circuit ruled that Virginia lacked standing to defend a duly enacted state law from federal preemption, it took away much of the states' ability to serve that function," Cuccinelli stated. Cuccinelli is defending the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act (VHCFA), which the Virginia General Assembly passed with a large bipartisan majority before the federal health care law was passed. The VHCFA provides that no one can force Virginia citizens to purchase health insurance.
Cuccinelli continued, "The court's decision is not only in conflict with the Constitution, but it is also in direct conflict with the decisions of the Supreme Court and of numerous other circuit courts of appeals. In fact, neither the federal government in its arguments nor the Fourth Circuit in its opinion identified a single case where the Supreme Court or another federal circuit court had ever found that a state lacked standing to defend a statute from a claim of federal preemption."
Cuccinelli continued, "Because only the Fourth Circuit has adopted this position, other states - consistent with years of precedent from the Supreme Court - are free to continue to defend their laws from federal overreach. But Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia cannot. If nothing else, the Supreme Court should take this case to address this anomaly."
While stressing that the standing question is significant enough to merit Supreme Court review, Cuccinelli stated that Virginia's petition raises a second issue and asks the Supreme Court to review the case on the merits of whether or not Congress has the power to force people to buy a private product by enacting an insurance mandate and penalty.
"As we have always maintained, questions over the constitutionality of the mandate and penalty are significant, and the uncertainty that those questions have caused continues to have a negative impact on the nation's economy, as states and businesses cannot project future costs for a law that may or may not be around a year from now. For the good of the country, these questions need to be answered, and we have asked the Supreme Court to answer them, whether in our case or in one of the other cases coming up through the system," said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli stated that Virginia has asked the Supreme Court to grant not only Virginia's petition, but also the other petitions that are pending before the court from other challenges to the law. "Given the importance of the issue, we believe that multiple petitions should be granted to guarantee that the Supreme Court has a case in which it can reach all the key constitutional questions. In its filings in the Supreme Court, the federal government has raised the possibility that the other suits may not have standing and may be barred by the federal Anti-Injunction Act. Accordingly, because Virginia's is the case in which the issue of state sovereign standing has been most fully developed, it may be the only case where the court can reach the merits of all the constitutional questions this law has created," he said.
"Regardless of which case or cases the Supreme Court ultimately decides to hear, the most important thing is that the issues are heard and that the federal government is compelled to work within the limits the Constitution prescribes and does not exceed those limits. Exceeding those limits would create a dangerous and unprecedented growth in government power.
"As we have indicated from the beginning, we have always felt that the issues raised by the various challenges to the federal health care law could only be decided in the United States Supreme Court. Regarding Virginia's case, the federal government and the commonwealth openly acknowledged in the original district court proceeding that both parties fully expected the case would ultimately end up in the Supreme Court. The filing of our petition is the next step in that process," said Cuccinelli.