Judge Upholds Constitutional Challenge to PPACA

January 04, 2011, 02:23 PM

As an update to an earlier post entitled Judges Reject Constitutional Challenges to PPACA, United States District Court Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia upheld a challenge to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the PPACA), P.L. 111-148. The challenge, filed and argued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is the first favorable ruling out of the many to have challenged the constitutionality of the PPACA. The Virginia Attorney Generalwho filed the lawsuit only moments after President Barack Obama signed PPACA into lawargued that Congress overstepped its authority by including a provision in the PPACA that requires the uninsured to obtain coverage or face penalties (the Individual Mandate). The Individual Mandate provision is a key piece of the PPACA and its financial structure. In his 42-page opinion, Judge Hudson concluded that the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision [Individual Mandate] exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power. Accordingly, Judge Hudson ordered that the Individual Mandate be severed from the PPACA. However, Judge Hudson refused to grant a request for an injunction against the entire PPACA, due, in part, to the delayed implementation of many of the central pieces of the PPACA. The attorneys for the Obama administration are expected to appeal. Consequently, this decision, coupled with the many opposing decisions on this matter, opens the door for this issue to ultimately be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. —Christopher L. McLean