Monday, October 25, 2010

Two hearings in Virginia

The District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia each heard arguments in ACA litigation cases last week. In the more watched case, Judge Hudson heard arguments in Richmond (Eastern District) on the parties' respective motions for summary judgment. You can find news coverage here and here, among other places. Judge Hudson apparently spent much of the argument probing the degree to which the minimum coverage provision is severable from the rest of the ACA--which is, no doubt, an ominous sign for the United States. For the court would only reach the severability question if it first concluded that the minimum coverage provision was unconstitutional. Interestingly, the United States (in part, no doubt, to bolster its principal submissions on appeal) conceded that, if the minimum coverage requirement were unconstitutional, the prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions (imposed on insurers) would be unconstitutional as well. Judge Hudson indicated that he would issue his ruling by the end of the year.

In a less watched case, Judge Moon heard arguments Friday in Lynchburg, Virginia (Western District), in Liberety University v. Geithner on the United States's motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs in that case, in addition to challenging the minimum coverage provision as exceeding Congress's enumerated powers, allege that the ACA violates the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause (by requiring them to subsidize abortion) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (by distributing the Act's exemptions unequally).

(Unfortunately, the transcripts of these hearings are not available on PACER.)