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Sixth Circuit asks health care challengers to explain why they can sue

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] has asked [order, PDF] challengers of the new health care reform law [text; JURIST news archive] to defend the legality of their participation in the case. The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) [advocacy website] is challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate which requires that all citizens purchase health insurance. The court asked the TMLC to file a 10-page brief addressing standing concerns and whether it is bringing a facial or as applied challenge to the health care law. The court wants TMLC to explain its injury in fact, having filed the challenge three years prior to the effective date of the health care and to explain what enforcement mechanisms the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official website] can even use to force compliance. It also wants to know if TMLC is bringing a facial challenge, because, if so, there is a higher standard they must meet. TMLC filed the appeal in December after a federal district court upheld [JURIST report] the health care law's constitutionality.

The constitutionality of the individual mandate is a source of controversy and has spawned multiple lawsuits. Earlier this week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) [advocacy website] sought to have its challenge reinstated in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] after it was dismissed by the lower court. Last February, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) asked federal judge Roger Vinson to clarify that states must continue to enact the health care reform law as the government appeals from Vinson's January ruling finding the law unconstitutional [JURIST reports]. There is also an ongoing challenge in Virginia over a split decision in the US district courts with the Eastern District of Virginia ruling against individual mandate provision and the Western District of Virginia dismissing a challenge [JURIST reports].

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