Long le­gal fight ahead for health care law in United States

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

WASHINGTON: The score­card on the le­gal fight over Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's health care over­haul is two judges in fa­vor and one against.

But these are the early rounds in pre­lim­i­nary bouts. The one that re­ally counts - a show­down at the Supreme Court - is at least a year away.

The health care law suf­fered its first ma­jor le­gal set­back Mon­day when a fed­eral judge de­clared that the heart of the sweep­ing leg­is­la­tion is un­con­sti­tu­tional. The de­ci­sion handed Repub­li­can foes am­mu­ni­tion for their re­peal ef­fort next year.

The rul­ing by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hud­son, a Repub­li­can ap­pointee in Rich­mond, Va., marked the first suc­cess­ful court chal­lenge to any por­tion of the new law, fol­low­ing two ear­lier rul­ings in its fa­vor by Demo­crat­i­cap­pointed judges. A num­ber of other law­suits were dis­missed early on, with­out rul­ings on the sub­stance of the law.

The law's cen­tral re­quire­ment for nearly all Amer­i­cans to carry in­surance is un­con­sti­tu­tional, well be­yond Congress' power to man­date, Hud­son ruled. That put him in the same camp as Vir­ginia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Cuc­cinelli - the Repub­li­can who filed the suit - and many of the GOP law­mak­ers who will take con­trol of the U.S. House in Jan­uary.

But Hud­son de­nied Vir­ginia's request to strike down the law in its en­tirety or block it from be­ing im­ple­mented while his rul­ing is ap­pealed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

"An in­di­vid­ual's per­sonal de­ci­sion to pur­chase - or de­cline to pur­chase - health in­surance from a pri­vate provider is be­yond the his­tor­i­cal reach of the Com­merce Clause," said Hud­son, a 2002 ap­pointee of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

An­other judge in Florida, a GOP ap­pointee, has not ruled in an­other law­suit - brought by 20 states against the leg­is­la­tion - though he has sig­naled trou­ble for the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ar­gu­ments in that law­suit, which also chal­lenges whether the fed­eral govern­ment can re­quire states to ex­pand their Med­i­caid pro­grams, get un­der way Thurs­day in Florida.

Nev­er­the­less, the White House pre­dicted it would pre­vail in the Supreme Court.

"Keep in mind this is one rul­ing by one fed­eral district court. We've al­ready had two fed­eral district courts that have ruled that this is def­i­nitely con­sti­tu­tional," Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said Mon­day in an in­ter­view with tele­vi­sion sta­tion WFLA in Tampa, Fla.

"You've got one judge who dis­agreed. That's the na­ture of these things."

Fed­eral ap­peals

courts based in At­lanta, Cincin­nati and Rich­mond make up the next set of judges who will have their say on the law, though their rul­ings are at least months away.

Once ap­pel­late judges have weighed in, the next ap­peal is to the Supreme Court.

In April, Jus­tice Stephen Breyer pre­dicted an even­tual high court hear­ing for the health care over­haul. That might not hap­pen un­til af­ter the 2012 elec­tions, though.

In the short term, the lat­est court rul­ing hands po­tent am­mu­ni­tion to GOP op­po­nents as they pre­pare to as­sert con­trol in the new Congress with prom­ises to re­peal the law.

Obama in turn has vowed to veto any re­peal leg­is­la­tion and ap­pears likely to pre­vail since Democrats re­tain con­trol of the Se­nate. Repub­li­cans also have dis­cussed try­ing to starve the law of fund­ing. -Ap

TAIPEI: Acer's Chair­man J.T. Wang poses with the new 10-inch Acer tablet PC af­ter an in­ter­view. -Ap

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.