Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II (R) announced Feb. 9 that the state has filed a petition for direct review by the U.S. Supreme Court of a key decision on the validity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The petition, filed late Feb. 8, argues that the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision, and the validity of PPACA as a whole, are questions of imperative public importance that justify the court's taking the unusual step of considering the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules on the appeal.
The individual mandate, which is scheduled to take effect in 2014, would require virtually all U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance or pay a monetary penalty.
In the decision for which Virginia is seeking review, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in December that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but severed it from the remainder of the law, thus allowing other sections of PPACA to take effect as planned. Both parties appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit, which granted expedited review Jan. 26.
The Virginia case was the first in which a court declared that Congress did not have authority to enact the individual mandate. In late January, a federal district court in Florida subsequently ruled the entire statute invalid based on its inability to sever the unconstitutional provision.
Two other district court rulings upholding the individual mandate are pending on appeal.