Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli [official website] on Friday filed a petition for certiorari [text, PDF] asking the US Supreme Court [official website] to review the recent Fourth Circuit ruling [JURIST report] dismissing Virginia's challenge of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [HR 3590 text; JURIST backgrounder]. Virginia, among the first to file a challenge to PPACA, challenges the Foruth Circuit's dismissal for lack of standing as a "misapprehen[sion of] foundational and continuing role of the federal courts as arbiters of competing claims of state and federal power." The petition characterizes the ruling on sovereign standing as creating a circuit split and criticizes the Fourth Circuit's use of the Political Question doctrine [Cornell LII Backgrounder], which Virginia asserts has been abandoned, in order to withhold standing:
[I]n 1962, ... this Court redefined the political question doctrine to exclude state-federal relations: "it is the relationship between the judiciary and the coordinate branches of the Federal Government, and not the federal judiciary's relationship to the States, which gives rise to the political question." Four years later ... South Carolina was permitted to proceed with its challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it was defending its own political rights rather than acting as parens patriae. Ever since, until the Fourth Circuit decided this case, state sovereign standing has been uncontroversial in this Court and in the federal circuits.Virginia urges the court to take the appeal and rule on the standing, but also go on to rule on the merits of the case.
The Supreme Court will likely hear the constitutional challenges to PPACA this term. Last week, both the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] and a group of 26 states filed petitions [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court seeking a review of a recent decision handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website]. The Eleventh Circuit found the PPACA individual health care mandate unconstitutional [JURIST report] but upheld the remainder of the law without the mandate. Also last week, the Obama administration filed a brief [text, PDF] in opposition to a petition for certiorari filed [JURIST report] in Thomas More Law Center v. Obama in July, which sought review of a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] that found the individual mandate provision constitutional [JURIST report]. In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by a physician organization for lack of standing.