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Supreme Court still mum on Va. health care petition

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday morning came and went with no word from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether it will grant Virginia state Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II's request to fast-track the state's legal challenge to federal health care reform.

While the case was scheduled to be discussed in the justices' private conference on Friday, there was no announcement either Friday or when the court convened on Monday.

Mr. Cuccinelli petitioned the Supreme Court in February to bypass the normal appellate process and hear his case challenging the constitutionality of the March 2010 law requiring, among other things, that Americans purchase health care coverage. If the court grants his request, the case will be redirected out of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where its scheduled for a May 10 hearing.

Mr. Cuccinelli told The Washington Times in a recent interview that if an announcement wasn't made on Friday, it could mean that one justice was writing a short opinion that would accompany an order. It could also mean, among other things, that a justice asked for more time to consider the case.

The justices meet again on Friday to discuss pending cases.

Mr. Cuccinelli's request is backed by governors in 28 states, who have sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to drop his objections to asking the Supreme Court for an expedited review.

Currently, Virginia's lawsuit is separate from a similar challenge filed by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and signed onto by 25 other states. Mr. Cuccinelli said the two lawsuits could get rolled together before the Supreme Court.

While the lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the entire health care legislation, the most controversial part of the law is a mandate that requires all individuals to purchase health insurance by 2014 — when most of the laws provisions kick in — or pay a penalty.

In the five courts to rule on the provision so far, three judges appointed by Democrats have ruled that it is constitutional and two judges appointed by Republicans have ruled it is unconstitutional.

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