The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday in favor of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, saying that Virginia has no right to challenge the law’s mandate that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance. The court also shot down Liberty University’s preemptive argument against having to make additional payments for not complying with the healthcare law, according to POLITICO.
Of the Liberty University challenge, the court ruled that the legal challenge had come too soon.
“Because this suit constitutes a pre-enforcement action seeking to restrain the assessment of a tax, the Anti-Injunction Act strips us of jurisdiction. Accordingly, we must vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.”
POLITICO noted that this is the first time that the penalties levied against non-compliers were referred to as a tax. The Anti-Injunction Act requires Americans who want to challenge taxes to first pay the tax and then ask for a refund. The court said Liberty can’t challenge the mandate until 2014. Obama repeatedly claimed the healthcare mandate would not equate to a tax on the middle class, although his lawyers have used the fact that it is to win their argument.
The court ruling in the case of Virginia absolved the Federal government of any wrongdoing in its push to require individual mandates for health insurance.
“When a state brings a suit seeking to protect individuals from a federal statute, it usurps this sovereign prerogative of the federal government and threatens the ‘general supremacy of federal law.’ A state has no interest in the rights of its individual citizens sufficient to justify such an invasion of federal sovereignty.”
Since the rulings focused not on the merits of the law but on the claims against it, Obamacare supporters have gained little in the ruling. And opponents are expected to play down the impact of the rulings, mainly because the judges were all appointed by Democratic Presidents — two by Obama himself.