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Supreme Court rejects Virginia petition for expedited review of health care law

The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday denied [order list, PDF] Virginia's request for the court to rule on the constitutionality of the health care reform law [HR 3590 text; JURIST news archive] on an expedited basis. The writ was filed [JURIST report] in February by the state's attorney general, Kenneth Cuccinelli [official website], who sought to have the high court depart from its traditional procedure and instead review the constitutionality of the law before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] rules on the issue. In the absence of war or a constitutional crisis, the Supreme Court will rarely intervene to decide a legal issue before it has been addressed by the appropriate appellate courts. Judicial review of the health care reform law will now continue in federal appeals court [AP report]. The appeal stems from a December ruling by a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] that the minimum coverage provision of the health care reform law is unconstitutional [JURIST report]. This ruling has been put on hold, pending appeal.

The enactment of the health care reform law has incited a number of legal challenges in addition to that posed by Virginia. Last week a judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] rejected [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. 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 law. In a similar ruling earlier in the month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire [official website] dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] also challenging the law's constitutionality and held that the plaintiff, 80-year-old Harold Peterson, lacked standing because his Medicare coverage automatically satisfied the law's insurance mandate. A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] has also struck down the law, while judges in Michigan and Virginia have upheld it [JURIST reports].

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