Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli took Obamacare to court today in U.S. District Court in Richmond. Judge Henry Hudson, a Bush appointee and former U.S. Attorney in the high-profile ‘Rocket Docket’ in the Eastern District of Virginia is a very solid judge. Many Virginia lawyers, including yours truly and Doug Mataconis, practiced before him when he was a Circuit Court judge in Fairfax County. I agree with Doug that regardless of the outcome of the ruling itself, it will be very well thought out. To put it bluntly, Judge Hudson is no slouch.
David Sherfinski at WaEx has the details from the oral argument today.
A federal judge on Thursday heard opening arguments in Virginia’s lawsuit against the federal government over the high-profile health care law that took effect in March.
Judge Henry E. Hudson said he would likely issue a ruling within 30 days.
The federal government has moved to dismiss the suit brought forth by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on the grounds that it has the authority to enforce the law under the Commerce Clause in the Constitution.
Ian Gershengorn, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, said health insurance is different from other products because everyone needs medical care at some point. Even a healthy person can get hit by a bus, and “in this country we don’t allow a person to die at the emergency room door,” he said.
But Cuccinelli has maintained the federal government overstepped its bounds in mandating that people buy health insurance.
“The government can’t draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause,” E. Duncan Getchell,Jr., solicitor general of Virginia, argued Thursday.
The ruling will likely be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the most conservative appellate bench in the country. If you opposed Obamacare and got to choose the judge and the Circuit in which to have the case heard, you could do a lot worse than the Virginia federal courts. But of course, Ken Cuccinelli already knew that.
Well, this is a pretty good question.
Hudson, a 2002 appointee of then-President George W. Bush, asked probing questions of both sides, but at times he appeared to express sympathy with Virginia’s case.
“Give me an example. Give me an example,” Hudson demanded of Gershengorn at one point, asking him to cite a time when individuals had been required by the federal government to buy a private product. “Where?”
Gershengorn responded that health care is unlike other products because everyone eventually consumes it. He said Congress was merely trying to regulate how it is paid for.
Which, of course, doesn’t answer the question.