The state of Virginia can continue its lawsuit to stop the nation’s new health care law from taking effect, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson said he is allowing the suit against the U.S. government to proceed, saying no court has ever ruled on whether it’s constitutional to require Americans to purchase a product.
“While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — a citizen’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce,” Hudson wrote in a 32-page decision.
“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,” he wrote.
The decision is a small step, but in no way a minor matter to opponents of the health care bill rejected by all congressional Republicans but signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.
“This lawsuit is not about health care, it’s about our freedom and about standing up and calling on the federal government to follow the ultimate law of the land — the Constitution,” said Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who brought the suit. “The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause.”
“Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has brought forward a specific and narrowly tailored objection to the Act. It warrants a full and thorough hearing in our courts. It is meritorious and constitutionally correct. … I look forward to the full hearing this fall,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Cuccinelli filed the suit almost immediately after the law was signed, arguing that it conflicts with Virginia’s legislation — also passed this year — exempting state residents from the requirement that all Americans be forced into health care coverage. Cuccinelli argued that the law violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
The Commerce Clause allows the U.S. government to regulate economic activity. But Virginia argued that it’s not economic activity when someone chooses to refrain from participating in commerce.