Judge Boots Health Care Suit Over Standing Issue
TRENTON, N.J. (CN) - A New Jersey federal judge on Thursday dismissed a pro se challenge to the constitutionality of health care reform, which had claimed, among other things, that 2010 law is illegal because it was passed by someone not eligible to be president of the United States.
Among countless other challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law last year, the suit at hand was filed by two men, claiming that the act was unconstitutional and violated various federal laws.
The government countered that the plaintiffs merely gave "their names, their addresses, their affiliations with various political groups in New Jersey, and their disapproval of the challenged statute," according to court records.
U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson agreed in an unpublished decision on Thursday. "At the outset, the Court is compelled to note that the Complaint contains a litany of conclusory allegations concerning the Act's allegedly illegal, unconstitutional and fraudulent nature," Wolfson wrote.
Among their 15-count complaint, which included claims of antitrust violations, the men claimed that Obama signed the act into law even though he was eligible to be president of the United States. They also claimed that the act exempts "practitioners of the Islamic or Muslim religion and the Amish religious sects."
Another count alleged that the act "allocates $2.55 billion in federal funding to historically black and minority serving colleges." The same count continued that the act taxes tanning salons to "punish one class of citizen" and "'exempts citizens of color' that have no need or desire to purchase said services."
"Glaringly absent from the Complaint, however, are any factual allegations concerning how Plaintiffs Purpura and Laster will be affected by the Act or any of its provisions," Wolfson wrote. "At best, in their opposition to Defendants' motion, Plaintiffs contend that they are 'personally effected [sic] by the "Act" since 'Mr. Purpura is 68 years of age and loses "Medicare Advantage"; whether he chooses or not to use it, privacy of his medical records; a violation of Amendment 4; Mr. Laster is handicapped and will now be tax [sic] on medical devices that cross State lines, and will suffer the restrictions to certain drugs, to[sic] that might not meet the cost accounting decision by government bureaucrat.' Although these 'facts' were not included in the Complaint or by Affidavit or Certification attached to any of Plaintiffs' filings, the Court will accept these facts as true for the purpose of deciding this motion."
The judge added: "Considered on their own, as well as in light of the numerous challenges to the Act that have already come before district courts and these courts' standing analyses, it is clear that these allegations fail to establish Plaintiffs' standing to challenge any of the provisions of the Act."
More than a dozen other federal judges throughout the country, including at least one other federal judge in New Jersey, have dismissed challenges to health care reform over standing.
In other challenges, two Virginia federal judges found that commonwealth had standing to sue, and judges in Washington D.C., Michigan and Florida ruled the same way about plaintiffs in their states. The judges ruled in less than half of these cases - Florida and one Virginia case - that the individual mandate provision was unconstitutional.
As these cases head to the federal appeals courts, the attorney general of Virginia is trying to fast-track an appeal to the Supreme Court. While the maneuver is not expected to work, the high court will likely have final say on the matter next year.