Virginia Health Reform Challenge Hits Courtroom

July 2, 2010 ( – Federal government lawyers were in a Virginia federal courtroom this week arguing that a challenge by the state of Virginia to the recent health care reform law should be thrown out. 

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said he would have a decision ready within 30 days on the government’s dismissal request. 

A Reuters news report said U.S. Department of Justice attorney Ian Gershengorn argued the state had no legal standing to file the health reform challenge because only an individual hit with a fine for not having insurance as required by the new law would have the right to sue.  

Besides, Gershengorn warned, if Virginia’s law excusing its citizens from complying with the federal mandate is allowed to trump federal  law, other states could decide to pass laws saying their citizens do not have to participate in other federal programs, such as the gas tax, U.S. census or military draft, Reuters reported. 

Meanwhile, state officials argued in their challenge that the law is an unconstitutional exercise of the federal government’s power; federal officials have countered that the Commerce Clause allows Washington to regulate commerce between the states (see Rules/Regs:”Constitutional” Conventions). 

Regardless of the Virginia ruling, other health reform challenges will proceed, including one filed in Florida by a coalition of states. In July the federal government will have to argue in court twice, once in California on July 16 and once in Michigan on July 21, Reuters reported.