RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – A federal judge on Monday rejected the Justice Department’s request to toss out a lawsuit challenging the health care reform bill President Obama signed into law in March. “While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues, all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — a citizen’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce,” U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson wrote.
Minutes after Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, attorneys general in at least 14 states filed lawsuits challenging it. Florida and a dozen other states challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a federal court in Florida, while Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II filed a separate lawsuit in Richmond.
Virginia claims the mandate requiring the majority of Virginians to buy health insurance or pay a fine violates a state anti-reform bill passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The government, through the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, asked Judge Hudson to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming it has the authority to mandate coverage to pay the $43 billion yearly medical tab for those without health insurance.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also argued that the bill was a valid exercise of Congress’ taxing and spending power, and does not burden state rights.
But Virginia claims the bill does exactly that: It interferes with state rights in violation of the 10th Amendment.
“Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side’s position,” Hudson wrote, “this court cannot conclude at this stage that the complaint fails to state a cause of action.”
Hudson denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss.