The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit today dismissed a case brought by the attorney general of Virginia against ObamaCare, holding that Virginia lacked “standing,” a legal term of art meaning that Virginia was not the proper party to bring the case.
Professor Stephen Presser of Northwestern University School of Law, who supports legal challenges to ObamaCare, sent out a statement explaining, “The Court ruled that since the individual mandate applies only to individuals, the state of Virginia, which had brought this particular action, had no ‘standing,’ or, in other words, the state could not stand in the shoes of the individual Virginians affected by the Act.” He observed: “This is a further indication that the United States Supreme Court should soon resolve this issue, now that both the District Courts and the Court of Appeals have issued contradictory decisions both on the standing and substantive issues.”
Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute had the following statement:
The Fourth Circuit’s rulings today in no way affect any other case and should only speed up the Supreme Court’s ultimate consideration of the issues raised in all these challenges. The dismissal of Virginia’s lawsuit on standing grounds merely removes one particular plaintiff from consideration, even as 26 states and numerous non-state plaintiffs remain in separate suits. Similarly, the dismissal of Liberty University’s lawsuit, while interesting in that it marks the first-ever finding that the individual mandate is a tax (that cannot be challenged before it’s enforced), doesn’t change the jurisprudential calculus because there was already a split between the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits on the mandate’s constitutionality. All of the constitutional issues attending the individual mandate have now been exhaustively ruled upon by three federal appellate courts in four separate cases. While the D.C. Circuit will hear argument in yet another suit later this month, there’s no reason for the Supreme Court to delay its review. As President Obama unveils yet another plan to stimulate job creation, it’s time to finally put an end to the uncertainty over the fate of his most economically damaging piece of legislation.
Well, the Supreme Court really doesn’t care as a legal matter about the economy. But it does care about split decisions on critical issues among the circuit courts. Expect the Supreme Court to get the case and likely rule before the end of 2012.