Federal judge dismisses challenge to health care reform act

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] on Wednesday rejected [opinion text] a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [HR 3590 materials; JURIST news archive]. Judge Freda Wolfson dismissed the lawsuit, brought without an attorney by two New Jersey residents, on jurisdictional grounds, ruling the two men had no standing [Cornell LII backgrounder] to challenge the health care reform law. The plaintiffs alleged that the PPACA violates numerous Constitutional provisions and conflicts with several federal statutes, but could not establish that they were or would be in any way injured by any of the law's provisions. Wolfson noted in her opinion:

The Court is compelled to note that although Plaintiffs claim to represent "We the People" and the "citizens of the State of New Jersey," ... Plaintiffs are not attorneys and this lawsuit has not been brought as a class action. Moreover, no individual signed the Complaint other than the named Plaintiffs. Thus, the Court considers this as a challenge to the Act brought solely on behalf of the two individual Plaintiffs.
Defendants Kathleen Sebelius, Timothy Geithner and Hilda Solis [official websites], individually and in their official government capacities, were granted a motion to dismiss the complaint without oral argument.

Earlier on Wednesday, Idaho Governor CL "Butch" Otter (R) [official website] issued an executive order prohibiting implementation of the PPACA [JURIST report] in the state. Idaho is one of a group of states [JURIST report] which joined in a suit against the federal government [JURIST report] filed in March 2010 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] alleging that PPACA is unconstitutional. The judge in that case struck down [JURIST report] the law. The US Department of Justice [official website] appealed the ruling, and the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] has agreed to hear the case on expedited review [JURIST report]. The health care reform law is also the subject of numerous other legal challenges across the country. Last month, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli [official website] filed a petition for a writ of certiorari [JURIST report] with the US Supreme Court [JURIST news archive] asking the court to rule on the constitutionality of the law on an expedited basis, before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] rules on the issue. In January, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging a provision of the health care reform law. In October, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the law is constitutional [JURIST report] under the Commerce Clause as it addresses the economic effects of health care decisions, and that it does not represent an unconstitutional direct tax.

 

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