The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lacks standing to bring a lawsuit challenging the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
In its Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius opinion, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “A state possesses no legitimate interest in protecting its citizens from the government of the United States.”
Not to be outdone by the Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, which have also ruled on Affordable Care Act cases, the Fourth Circuit issued a second Affordable Care Act opinion in Liberty University v. Timothy Geithner, in which it found that Liberty University’s challenge to the individual mandate penalties could not be reviewed under the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA).
The court noted in Liberty University that Affordable Care Act penalties were a type of tax that could not be attacked through pre-enforcement, but reserved the possibility that Liberty University could renew its claim after the Act becomes effective in 2014.
In an unusual turn, Fourth Circuit Judge Wynn submitted a concurring opinion in Liberty University, stating that he would have upheld the individual mandate if the AIA had not stripped the court of jurisdiction in the matter.
If you're tracking the judicial progress of the individual mandate challenges, here's a recap:
- The Sixth Circuit ruled in June that the individual mandate is constitutional.
- The Eleventh Circuit ruled in August that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
- The Third and Ninth Circuits dismissed individual mandate challenges in August for lack of standing.
Now that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the cases out of Virginia, we think that the individual mandate issue is officially ripe for Supreme Court treatment. Will the Court grant cert when it returns from summer recess? Will the individual mandate stand? We're betting yes on all of the above. Be sure to check out FindLaw's Supreme Court blog for Supreme Court news and updates on the individual mandate challenge.
- Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius (FindLaw's CaseLaw)
- Liberty University v. Timothy Geithner (Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Eleventh Circuit Strikes Individual Mandate (FindLaw's Eleventh Circuit blog)
- Thomas More Law Center v. Obama (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Five Things to Know About the Supreme Court Healthcare Appeal (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)