December Hearing Set for Health Reform Lawsuit

September 15, 2010 ( - A federal judge has set a December 16 hearing for arguments in a legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida is weighing a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit. The challenge by 20 states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) was filed immediately after President Obama signed the health reform bill into law (see “Constitutional” Conventions) and claims the bill oversteps the government’s authority in the constitution. 

According to the news report, Vinson said he would formally rule on the dismissal motion by October 14, but Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum believes the decision on the December hearing indicates Vinson will let the suit proceed. The judge indicated in the latest ruling that he would likely reject “at least one” of the government’s motions for dismissal of the case, but he did not elaborate.  

In its arguments in other health care reform-related suits, the administration contends that requiring Americans to obtain health care is a valid exercise of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce (see Government Responds to Health Care Reform Lawsuit).  The government said plaintiffs’ claims that the provision falls outside of both Congress’s authority over interstate commerce and its power to tax and spend for the general welfare “are flatly wrong.” The administration argues the Anti-Injunction Act bars a suit to enjoin collection of a tax.    

A Congressional Research Service report discusses the arguments courts will face in hearing the challenges (see Report Discusses the Legal Challenges to Health Care Reform).  

Last month, a federal judge in Virginia refused to dismiss a suit filed by that state challenging the health reform law (see Judge Moves Forward Virginia Lawsuit over Health Care Reform).