U.S. District Judge Norman Moon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Virginia denied the request by Liberty University and five individual plaintiffs to declare the reform law unconstitutional.
“Plaintiffs fail to allege how any payments required under the act, whether fines, fees, taxes, or the cost of the policy, would be used to fund abortion,” Moon wrote in his ruling. “The challenged provisions of the act are well within Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause” of the U.S. Constitution.
Moon pointed out that the law explicitly states that no plan is required to cover any form of abortion services and that in every state health benefit buying pool set up by the law there must be at least one plan that does not provide abortion services except for rape or incest or where the life of the woman is endangered.
Liberty University and the other plaintiffs will appeal, their attorney, Mathew D. Staver, said in telephone interview with Bloomberg.
“This is only a bump in the road. I am confident that the federal health-care law will eventually be struck down on appeal because it is unconstitutional,” Staver said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. “Congress does not have the authority to force every American to purchase a particular kind of health insurance product.”
“In the weeks ahead, there will be additional court cases examining this matter and the health reform law,” wrote Stephanie Cutter, an Assistant to the President, in a blog posted on the White House Web site. “We can’t predict the outcome of each case, but we are confident that we will ultimately prevail in court and continue to deliver the benefits of reform to the American people.”
Liberty University and the other plaintiffs sued in March, alleging that provisions of the act violated their rights of freedom of religion, association and equal protection, citing requirements for purchasing health insurance by individuals or providing such benefits by employers.
A federal judge in Ohio on Tuesday dismissed parts of another health reform challenge, but kept alive a claim that the new law goes beyond the right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce (see Ohio HCR Suit Partly Dismissed).
The White House blog is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/30/another-health-care-court-victory and the latest court ruling is here.