The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today dismissed (you can read the ruling here) Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit seeking to overturn health care reform on the grounds that the Commonwealth lacked jurisdiction to file the suit. The vote was 2-1, but the dissenting judge ruled that while he would have found jurisdiction, he would have upheld the Constitutionality of the individual mandate, so in effect the vote was 3-0 against Cuccinelli.
Essentially, the Appeals Court said that because health care reform imposed no obligations or duties on the state, or affected the state (as a distinct entity) in any way, Virginia had no interest in legally challenging it.
Indeed, Cuccinelli and Gov. McDonnell realized this jurisdictional problem existed from the get-go, which is why they tried to manufacture a state interest in challenging the law by passing the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, a law that, in effect, states that citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be forced to buy health insurance.
(More on the flip)
Of course, this artifice did not fool the three Federal Judges. The Cuccinelli/McDonnell trickery did not work because the VHCFA was not a law that was ever intended to be enforced, and thus was a phony as a three dollar bill.
“[T]he only apparent function of the VHCFA,” the court said, “is to declare Virginia’s opposition to a federal insurance mandate.” How did the court know that the statute had merely this shallow and blatant political purpose, as opposed to serving any legitimate legislative purpose? Well, the court cited the timing of the law, and the political statements of Gov. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bolling when the governor signed the law.
“While this declaration surely announces the genuine opposition of a majority of Virginia’s leadership to the individual mandate,” the court said, “it fails to create any sovereign interest in the judicial invalidation of that mandate.”
The passage of the VHCFA and the effort to hang jurisdiction on it was doomed from the start — something that should have been obvious to a first year law student who had researched the legal issue.Indeed, reading the court’s discussion of the case law governing this area, it wasn’t even a close call. The fact is that every Virginian, no matter how you feel about health care reform, should be outraged that our attorney general’s time and the Commonwealth’s money and resources were wasted on this nonsense.
What this all shows is that the Cuccinelli’s legal attack on health care reform was pure amateur hour and a waste of time and precious Commonwealth resources. And while Cuccinelli’s extremist ideology certainly renders him unift to hold public office, IMHO, this decision should give even the most ardent conservative pause with respect to Cuccinelli’s competence.