A federal judge on Monday allowed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s health care reform law brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to move forward, declining the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the case.
In a 32-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson refused to throw out the state’s lawsuit, reported Reuters. Cuccinelli had argued that the requirement that residents have health insurance was unconstitutional.
Hudson noted that his ruling was only an initial step, but said that the question raised in the lawsuit - whether it was constitutional to force citizens to buy something - had not been fully tested in court.
“The congressional enactment under review — the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision — literally forges new ground and extends (the U.S. Constitution’s) Commerce Clause powers beyond its current high watermark,” Hudson said, according to Reuters.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement to Main Justice that the ruling was “merely a procedural decision by the court” to allow the case to move forward.
“We believe there is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. We are confident that the health care reform statute is constitutional and that we will ultimately prevail,” Schmaler said.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said the law was unconstitutional and congratulated Cuccinelli on the ruling, reported the Washington Post.
“The requirement that all Americans must purchase health insurance or face a penalty is not permitted under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution,” McDonnell said in a statement. “It would also violate Virginia’s Health Care Freedom Act, which was passed by a bipartisan majority of the Commonwealth’s democratically elected representatives and I signed into law this spring.”
If White House staff members were worried, they weren’t showing it.
“This is nothing new,” wrote Stephanie Cutter, reacting to the judge’s ruling on the White House blog. “We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act – constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed. So too will the challenge to health reform.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius agreed with the Justice Department that the ruling was simply formality.
“We remain confident that the case is solid,” Sebelius told reporters during a conference call, reported Reuters. “This is just a step to move us to the debate on the merits of the case.”
Cuccinelli’s suit was filed shortly after Obama signed the legislation into law in March.
A panel called “Saving Freedom and Due Process from Oppressive Justice Department” devolved into a forum for the so-called “birther” movement on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Two panelists dropped out rather than appear alongside a leader in the “birther” movement, which believes that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice both dropped out of the CPAC forum because of the presence of Gary Kreep, according to the knowledgeable person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Unfortunately Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has had to decline today for a variety of different reasons, and because it is that season in Washington, D.C., Scott Bullock who is my good friend, has had a family emergency unfortunately he’s just had to rush back out, so I apologize for that as well,” said Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty, who was moderating the panel.
Kreep, director of the United States Justice Foundation, is behind a birther infomercial and has filed lawsuits demanding an original copy of Obama’s birth certificate. For viewers who donate $30, Kreep will send a fax in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder that demands that Obama produce his “real” birth certificate.
“People like [original "birther" lawyer] Phil Berg and I, we’re not doing this for the fun of it, we’re not getting paid. I don’t get paid a penny for this, I do it because the people of the United States have a right to know if this guy is a natural born citizen,” Kreep told Main Justice. “You can say I’m nuts, you can say I’m wacko, you can say whatever you want, but why doesn’t he just show the birth certificate, that’s what the press should be asking.”
“There’s a legal issue as to why the Department of Justice is defending Mr. Obama in these cases,” said Kreep. A spokesman for Cuccinelli denied in a statement to the Washington Post that the Virginia official had objected to appearing with Kreep.
Video of the panel is available below.
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Timothy Heaphy was sworn in as U.S. Attorney the Roanoke-based Western District of Virginia this morning, the Rockbridge Weekly reported today.
According to the Rockbridge Weekly, at the swearing in, Heaphy said he felt a deep sense of honor taking the post. “This office will continue to work with all of the diverse communities in the Western District to both prevent crime and punish those who break the law. I look forward to that important effort, and to working to promote justice in the days ahead,” Heaphy said.
Heaphy, who was confirmed by the Senate yesterday, will replace acting U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley.
Formerly a partner at Charlottesville law firm McGuireWoods, Heaphy will become the first presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Roanoake office since Jim Brownlee. Brownlee resigned last spring to run for the Republican nomination for state attorney general. He lost to Ken Cuccinelli.
Read more about Heaphy here.
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The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia won confirmation Wednesday night by unanimous consent.
Timothy Heaphy will replace acting U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley at the Roanoke, Va.-based post. President Obama nominated the partner at McGuireWoods in Charlottesville, Va., July 31. Read more about the Heaphy here.
Heaphy will be the first presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney to lead Western District of Virginia since John Brownlee, who resigned in April 2008 to campaign for the Virginia attorney general Republican nomination. Brownlee lost the nomination to state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli in May.
The Senate has now confirmed 16 U.S. Attorneys. The body has yet to consider U.S. Attorney nominees Brendan Johnson for South Dakota and Karen Loeffler for Alaska, who were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. There are another 12 nominees, who are waiting for votes in committee.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the U.S. Attorney nominee for the Western District of Virginia today by unanimous consent.
The president nominated Timothy Heaphy for the Roanoke-based post July 31. The partner at McGuireWoods in Charlottesville, Va., would succeed acting U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley. Read more about the nominee here.
Heaphy would be the first presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney to lead Western District of Virginia since John Brownlee, who resigned in April 2008 to campaign for the Virginia attorney general Republican nomination. Brownlee lost the nomination to state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli in May.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has now approved a total of 16 U.S. Attorney nominees. The Senate has confirmed 14 of those nominees. The panel has yet to vote on 10 nominees.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider President Obama’s pick to lead the Western District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office at its business meeting Thursday, according to the panel’s Web site.
Heaphy would be the first presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney to lead the office since John Brownlee, who resigned in April 2008 to campaign for the Virginia attorney general Republican nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee still has to schedule panel votes on 11 U.S. Attorney nominees. The panel has considered and approved a total of 15 U.S. Attorney nominees. The Senate has confirmed 11 U.S. Attorneys who have been reported out of committee.
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Timothy Heaphy (UVa, UVa Law) is nominated to replace John Brownlee, who campaigned to be the Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general after he left the U.S. Attorney’s office in April 2008 but lost to State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli.
- Born in New Haven, Conn., in 1964.
- Been a partner at McGuireWoods in Charlottesville, Va., since January 2006. Represented corporate and individual clients in government investigations involving securities, public corruption, environmental crimes, tax, government contracting, campaign finance, conflicts of interest, fraud and conspiracy. Also defended Kirk Fordham, former chief of staff to Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), and Rep. Timothy Murphy (R-Pa.) in separate criminal investigations.
- Received $506,868 from his partnership with McGuireWoods. Upon confirmation, Heaphy would resign from McGuireWoods, triggering a $37,500 bonus based on his performance in 2009.
- Served as Deputy Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Virginia from May 2003 until December 2005, where he handed cases involving violent crime, public corruption, fraud and national security. While in the office, he also served as the Deputy Managing Assistant United States Attorney for the Charlottesville Division of the district and served as the district’s Anti-Gang Coordinator.
- Worked as assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from April 1994 until May 2003. He was hired for the job by Eric Holder, who Heaphy discloses has “been a friend and mentor ever since.”
- Was an associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco from September 1992 until April 1994.
- Was a summer associate at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen in San Francisco in 1990.
- Was a press assistant on the Biden for President campaign in the summer of 1987, after which he worked in Biden’s senate office from September 1987 until June 1988.
- Worked for the Crime Victims United of Virginia political action committee in the fall of 2007 for less than a month before resigning due to “disagreement with the tone and substance of advertising that the group intended to sponsor and my realization that the group’s purpose was limited to the defeat of a particular candidate rather than the broader support of issues impacting crime victims.”
- Estimates that he has tried 65 cases to jury, the majority of which he was sole counsel on. Also has tried hundreds of non-jury trials.
- Has served as Vice Chairman of the Virginia Bar Association Criminal Justice Section since Feb. 2009
- Has served as Director of the First Amendment Memorial at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression since Jan. 2006 and will resign upon confirmation
- Served as Director of the Virginia Fair Trial Project from April 2008 until February 2009
- Was the Athletic Director at Camp Chateaugay in Merrill, N.Y. in the summer of 1988. Also was an English teacher at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., during the 1986-1987 school year. Worked as a waiter at II Porto Ristorante in Alexandria, Va. in the summer of 1986.
- Has received a slew of awards including the Department of Justice’s John Marshall Award for Excellence in Trial for Litigation, DOJ’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance and was named one of National Law Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40.”
Click here for his full questionnaire.