Circuit court dismisses two ACA lawsuits for lacking standing
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., tossed out two lawsuits challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Both rulings turned on a legalistic point, finding that neither entity that sued to strike down the reform law was technically injured by it and, therefore, lacked standing to sue. The appeals court remanded the cases back to the trial courts with orders to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without considering the substance of the debate over the law’s constitutionality. The three-judge panel ruled that neither Liberty University, a Christian school in Virginia, nor the state of Virginia had standing to challenge the law. State Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli argued that the state was injured because the reform law conflicted with a state law passed in response to the Affordable Care Act to block any health insurance requirement on its citizens. The appeals court called the law a “smokescreen” and ruled that the ACA’s mandate applies only to individuals, not states or businesses. In the other opinion, the court ruled that an existing federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act prevents litigants from challenging taxes before the taxes have been paid. The court then ruled that the individual mandate is a tax and that it does not take effect until 2014, leaving the lawsuit without grounds. The Virginia rulings became the third and fourth major appeals decisions on the law. Last month, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta declared the law’s insurance mandate unconstitutional. That followed the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which upheld the mandate’s constitutionality. The Cincinnati decision has already been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether it will take up the case.