The Obama administration is asking a federal judge to toss out Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit challenging federal health-care reform.
In its response to Virginia’s lawsuit, “Commonwealth v. Kathleen Sebelius” in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, federal lawyers argued, among other things, that Virginia has no legal standing to raise such a claim.
In March, Cuccinelli filed suit against the federal government charging that the legislation’s insurance mandate — which would require nearly every American to obtain insurance or face a fine by 2014 — was unconstitutional.
Cuccinelli’s suit argues that by including the mandate, Congress overstepped its authority under the Commerce Clause in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. As a result, a recently passed Virginia law that prohibits residents from being compelled to purchase health insurance should prevail.
But in papers filed late today, lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice wrote, “a state cannot manufacture its own standing to challenge a federal law by the simple expedient of passing a statute purporting to nullify it.”
“Otherwise, a state could import almost any political or policy dispute into federal court by enacting its side of the argument into state law.”
The section of the law Virginia is challenging applies to individuals, not the commonwealth. Because Virginia itself has not sustained an injury nor is about to, “it does not have standing to sue.”
Cuccinelli said in explaining the litigation that, “the Attorney General of Virginia has a duty to defend all validly enacted Virginia laws from any challenge or unconstitutional encroachment, and that’s what I intend to do with the Virginia a Health Care Freedom Act.”