Mississippi federal judge dismisses health care challenge

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[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi [official website] on Thursday dismissed [opinion, PDF] a lawsuit challenging the health care reform law [HR 3590 text; JURIST news archive]. Judge Keith Starrett ruled that plaintiffs, Mississippi Lt. Governor Phil Bryant [official website] and 10 other Mississippi residents who filed the complaint [text, PDF], failed to show they have legal standing pursuant to Article III [text] of the Constitution to challenge part of the health law that requires people to purchase insurance or face tax penalties. The plaintiffs argued that the “probability of injury” resulting from non-compliance with the legislation was sufficiently certain or imminent, and therefore met standing requirements. The defendants argued that the alleged injury, though economic, was too remote to confer standing. The court agreed that the plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to show “certainly impending” injury. Starrett gave the plaintiffs 30 days to amend their complaint.

There are currently cases in 28 states challenging the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). On Thursday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II [official profile] announced [press release; JURIST report] that he will file a petition for certiorari before judgment with the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive], asking the court to hear an appeal in the case of Commonwealth v. Sebelius [materials], the Commonwealth of Virginia’s challenge to the health care reform law. Earlier this week, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] struck down [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] the law as an unconstitutional overreaching of Congress’ Commerce Clause [Cornell II backgrounder] power. The entire law was voided in that case, as the judge found the individual insurance mandate to be unserverable. That decision is expected to be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website]. Earlier in January, a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging a provision of the health care reform law. In October, a federal judge in Michigan ruled [JURIST report] that the law is constitutional under the Commerce Clause as it addresses the economic effects of health care decisions, and that it does not represent an unconstitutional direct tax.

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