Rethinking Healthcare

Legal fight over health reform far from over

Legal fight over health reform far from over

Posting in Government

A ruling on the largest suit against the law, filed in Florida, is expected in December and is being heard by a panel of Republican-appointed judges.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge George Steeh of Michigan that the health reform law is constitutional was welcomed by the Administration, but it's just the first battle in a long legal war.

Steeh, a Clinton appointee, ruled that the requirement for people to buy a commercial product, health insurance, is allowed under the Constitution's commerce clause, in that a refusal to buy drives up prices in interstate commerce.

The Michigan case was brought by the Thomas More Law Center, which calls itself "the Christian response to the ACLU." In its statement the center said it was pleased the judge ruled its plaintiffs had standing in the case and said it would appeal. (The picture is from the Thomas More Center Web site.)

The largest suit against the law, brought by attorneys general in 20 states, is being heard in Florida, where a hearing was held last month and a decision is due in December.

The first decision in the battle was actually made in August, allowing a suit filed by Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to go forward. A decision is also expected there in December.

The Florida and Virginia cases are being heard by Republican judges.

All three suits are being defended by U.S. deputy attorney general Ira Gershengorn, who before  joining the government had an active trial practice defending Indian tribes before the federal courts. So does that make Cuccinelli General Custer?

We may soon know. Whatever the legal arguments over the law, Republicans feel confident that because most federal judges are of their party they can win the way George W. Bush won the Presidency.

And they might. Although the judge who heard the case against Proposition 8 was appointed by George H.W. Bush. So let's hold our fire.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure