A federal judge ruled Monday that a Virginia lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare may proceed.
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson denied the Obama Administration’s request to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in March.
The ruling was greeted favorably by Cuccinelli, who defended Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate provision in court on July 1.
“We are pleased that Judge Hudson agreed that Virginia has the standing to move forward with our suit and that our complaint alleged a valid claim,” Cuccinelli said following the ruling.
Although Judge Hudson did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit, he acknowledged that the case raises complex constitutional issues.
“Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue,” Hudson wrote.
Hudson wrote that all of the issues that the case raises boil down to whether the Constitution’s Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate and tax an individual’s decision not to buy health insurance.
“This judge has acknowledged that the legislation at issue here is beyond the outer limits that has ever been found to be constitutional before,” Cuccinelli said. “He also noted that Virginia challenged and the federal government failed to identify any examples where individuals have been ordered to do ‘a, b, and c’ under the Commerce Clause or the taxing powers.”
Cuccinelli said that it was ironic how the administration’s initial defense of Obamacare and the federal government’s current legal position are “diametrically opposite.” The administration argued in federal court that the mandate was a tax, a notion that was rejected by the President during an ABC News interview.
According to The Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius downplayed the ruling on Monday, arguing that the federal government’s case remains solid.
Unlike the Arizona immigration law, provisions of which were blocked by a federal judge last week, the healthcare law does not contain a severability clause, meaning that if Virginia succeeds in summary judgment, the entire bill will likely fall.
The constitutionality of the healthcare law will be decided in a summary judgment hearing on October 18. Cuccinelli and his team remain cautiously optimistic about Virginia’s prospects in the case.
“We survived the fight another day,” Cuccinelli said. “We’ve won this round and we recognize there are plenty of rounds next to go. I’d rather go to round two having won round one, than the other way around.”