today in black history

September 21, 2017

Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanist and the first President of Ghana, was born in 1909 in what was then the Gold Coast (Ghana).

Legal Challenges to Health Law

POSTED: August 15, 2011, 12:00 am

  • POST
    • Add to Mixx!
  • SEND TO FRIEND
  • Text Size
  • TEXT SIZE
  • CLEARPRINT
  • PDF

On Aug. 12, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found the individual mandate unconstitutional in the most watched of all the legal challenges to the new health care law: The lawsuit brought by the state of Florida and 25 other states. The 2-1 ruling is the only successful challenge to the health law thus far at the appeals court level.

KHN is tracking the status of 26 federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and will update those and other new cases on this page.

Appeals Court Status & Rulings


  • Florida vs. HHS: Appeals court found individual mandate unconstitutional (jump to)
  • New Jersey Physicians vs. Obama: Appeals court upheld district court dismissal on Aug. 3 (jump to)
  • Thomas More Law Center vs. Obama: Appeals court ruled law constitutional on June 29 (jump to)
  • Virginia vs. Sebelius: Oral arguments heard May 10 (jump to)
  • Liberty University vs. Geithner: Oral arguments heard May 10 (jump to)
  • Baldwin & Pacific Justice Institute vs. Sebelius: Oral arguments heard July 13 (jump to)
  • Susan Seven-Sky vs. Holder: Oral arguments scheduled for Sept. 23 (jump to)

District Court Status & Rulings

  • Court overturned law or part of law: 2 cases (jump to)
  • Court ruled law constitutional and dismissed case: 6 cases (jump to)
  • Court dismissed for lack of standing or procedural problems: 9 cases (jump to)
  • Court dismissed but gave plaintiff right to refile: 1 case (jump to)
  • Court decision pending: 8 cases (jump to)


  • COURT OVERTURNED LAW OR PART OF LAW

    Primary Plaintiff: State of Florida (joined by 25 other states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and two individuals)

    District Judge & Court
    : Roger Vinson, Northern District of Florida

    District Court Status: Vinson declared the law unconstitional on Jan. 31, 2011. In his ruling, Vinson struck down the entire law after finding the individual mandate unconstitutional, because "the Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker."

    On March 8, the government filed a notice of appeal with the 11th Circuit. The court set an expedited briefing schedule that could result in the case being taken up by the Supreme Court during its October 2011 term.

    Appeals Judges & Court: Joel F. Dubina (GHW Bush), Frank M. Hull (Clinton), Stanley Marcus (Clinton), 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status: The appeals court found the individual mandate unconstitutional by a 2-1 vote on Aug. 12. The court, however, found the individual mandate to be severable from the rest of the law, and found the remaining provisions "legally operative." Judge Marcus dissented.


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Commonwealth of Virginia

    District Judge & Court: Henry Hudson, Eastern District of Virginia

    District Court Status: Hudson declared the individual mandate unconstitutional on Dec. 13, 2010. The government appealed the ruling to the 4th Circuit.

    In his ruling, Hudson wrote, "Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market."

    On April 25 the Supreme Court denied the Virginia attorney general's request that the high court fast track case and hear it before the federal appeals process was exhausted.

    Appeals Judges & Court: Diana Gibbon Motz (Clinton), Andre M. Davis (Obama), James A. Wyan (Obama), 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status: The court heard oral arguments on May 10. (See analysis by SCOTUSblog.)



    COURT RULED LAW CONSTITUTIONAL AND DISMISSED CASE

    Primary Plaintiff: Liberty University

    District Judge & Court: Norman Moon, Western District of Virginia

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Nov. 30, 2010; Liberty appealed to the 4th Circuit on Jan. 17, 2011.

    The judge rejected the argument that the Commerce Clause can’t compel people to buy health insurance because that would be regulating inactivity. He wrote: "Far from ‘inactivity,’ by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance."

    Appeals Judges & Court: Diana Gibbon Motz (Clinton), Andre M. Davis (Obama), James A. Wyan (Obama), 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status: The court heard oral arguments on May 10. (See analysis by SCOTUSblog.)


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Thomas More Law Center

    District Judge & Court
    : George Caram Steeh, Eastern District of Michigan

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Oct. 7, 2010. Thomas More appealed to 6th Circuit on Dec. 15, 2010. The judge rejected the argument that the Commerce Clause can’t compel people to buy health insurance because that would be regulating inactivity. He said choosing not to buy insurance has an impact on health care providers and taxpayers and, therefore, is an example of “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.”

    Appeals Judges & Court
    : Boyce F. Martin, Jr. (Carter), Jeffrey S. Sutton (GW Bush), James Graham (Reagan), 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Appeals Court Status: In a 2-1 ruling on June 29, the appeals court ruled that Congress has a "rational basis" to impose an individual mandate and upheld the health law.

    Supreme Court Status: The plaintiff filed an appeal July 27 with the Supreme Court asking it to overturn the 6th Circuit decision.


    Primary Plaintiff: Susan Seven-Sky (brought by the American Center for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow)

    District Judge & Court: Gladys Kessler, District of Columbia

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Feb. 22, 2011. Kessler upheld the individual mandate, writing: "The individual decision to forgo health insurance, when considered in the aggregate, leads to substantially higher insurance premiums for those other individuals who do obtain coverage." Plaintiff filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit on March 1, 2011.

    Appeals Judges & Court: Brett Kavanaugh (GW Bush), Harry Edwards (Carter), Laurence Silberman (Reagan), D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status
    : The case is scheduled to be heard on Sept. 23.


    Primary Plaintiff: Foundation Hill Tea Party Patriots

    District Judge & Court: David K. Duncan, District of Arizona

    District Court Status
    : The court dismissed the case on June 17, 2010 after the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed its case.


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Jeannie Burlsworth, founder and state coordinator of Secure Arkansas

    District Judge & Court
    : Susan Webber Wright, Eastern District of Arkansas

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Sept. 8, 2010 after the plaintiff moved to dismiss its case.


    Primary Plaintiff: Physician Hospitals of America, Texas Spine & Joint Hospital

    District Judge & Court
    : Michael Schneider, Eastern District of Texas

    District Court Status
    : The court granted the government’s motion to dismiss on March 31, concluding that Congress “did not act unconstitutionally” in limiting physician-owned hospitals from certain activities. The plaintiffs filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit on May 27. The parties have begun filing briefs for the appeal; a brief from the plaintiff is due by August 3.



    COURT DISMISSED FOR LACK OF STANDING OR PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS

    Primary Plaintiff: New Jersey Physicians

    District Judge & Court: Susan Wigenton, District of New Jersey

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Dec. 8, 2010. New Jersey Physicians appealed to the 3rd Circuit. The judge denied the plaintiffs' argument that the law would prevent physicians from accepting direct payments from patients and that patients would be penalized if they chose not to buy health insurance.

    Appeals Judges & Court: Michael Chagares (GW Bush), Kent A. Jordan (GW Bush), Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. (Obama), 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status: On Aug. 3, the three-judge panel upheld the district court ruling that the plaintiffs lack standing.


    Primary Plaintiff: Anthony Shreeve (class action filed by Liberty Legal Foundation)

    District Judge & Court: Curtis Collier, Eastern District of Tennessee

    District Court Status
    : The court dismissed the case on Nov. 4, 2010. The judge dismissed the argument that there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government authority to regulate health care. The plaintiff refiled the case on Feb. 11 in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas.


    Primary Plaintiff: Steve Baldwin and the Pacific Justice Institute

    District Judge & Court
    : Dana Sabraws, Southern District of California

    District Court Status
    : The court dismissed the suit on Aug. 27. The plaintiff filed an appeal directly to Supreme Court, which sent the case back to 9th Circuit. The plaintiff then asked the 9th Circuit for an en banc hearing, which was denied. An appeal is still pending.

    The plaintiff argued the health care law violates individual rights, increases taxes and violates physician-patient privileges, along with violating the Commerce Clause. The district court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit.

    Appeals Court
    : 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Appeals Court Status: The appeals court heard the case on July 13. The appeals judges focused their questions on whether or not the case had standing.


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Independent American Party of Nevada

    District Judge & Court
    : James Mahan, District of Nevada

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on March 7 because of lack of action by plaintiff.


    Primary Plaintiff: Harold Peterson

    District Judge & Court: Joseph Laplante, District of New Hampshire

    District Court Status: The government's motion to dismiss, which was heard on March 10, was granted by the court "for lack of subject matter jurisdiction" on March 30.


    Primary Plaintiff: Nicholas Purpura

    District Judge & Court
    : Freda Wolfson, District of New Jersey

    District Court Status: On April 21, Judge Wolfson granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing. The judge said the plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence that they would be “personally effected” by the law.


    Primary Plaintiff: Kurt Joseph Van Tassel

    District Judge & Court: Thomas Schroeder, Middle District of North Carolina

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Dec. 16, 2010 for lack of standing.


    Primary Plaintiff: Missouri Lt. Gov Peter Kinder

    District Judge & Court: Rodney Sippel, Eastern District of Missouri

    District Court Status: The case was dismissed on April 26. The plaintiff filed an appeal to the 8th Circuit on May 4. Both parties have begun the filing documents as part of the appeals process in the 8th Circuit. The government has an August 11 deadline to file its brief.

    Kinder argued that Congress can’t require an individual to buy insurance and that the federal government unconstutionally "commandeered" state law by tying federal Medicaid funding to changes in health care law. Two amicus briefs were filed on behalf of the plaintiff, one by former solicitor general Paul Clement, who is representing the plaintiffs in Florida vs. HHS.


    Primary Plaintiff: Michael David Bellow, Jr.

    District Judge & Court: Keith Giblin, Eastern District of Texas

    District Court Status: On March 21, Judge Giblin recommended the government’s motion to dismiss the case, because Bellow didn’t provide sufficient evidence of injury or standing. The court dismissed the case on June 18.



    COURT DISMISSED BUT GAVE PLAINTIFF RIGHT TO REFILE

    Primary Plaintiff: Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant

    District Judge & Court
    : Keith Starrett, Southern District of Mississippi

    District Court Status: The court dismissed the case on Feb. 3, 2011 for "lack of standing" concerns. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t show that their clients would be required to comply with the individual mandate and gave them 30 days to amend and refile their case. The plaintiffs filed a second petition to the court on March 4, 2011. On April 12, the government filed a motion to dismiss the second petition. Plaintiffs responded on May 20, and the government responded on July 5.




    COURT DECISION PENDING


    Primary Plaintiff: Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

    District Judge & Court: Amy Berman Jackson, District of Columbia

    District Court Status
    : The government requested an extension of time to respond to the complaint on Jan. 28, 2011. The court is still considering the conservative group’s argument that the government can’t compel people to buy health insurance.


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Kevin Calvey

    District Judge & Court
    : David Russell, Western District of Oklahoma

    District Court Status: The plaintiff asked for an extension of time to respond to an Order to Show Cause on Jan. 3, 2011. The former Republican congressional candidate is the lead attorney representing a group that argues they cannot be forced to buy health insurance. The court dismissed three of seven claims but is still considering the remaining four claims, including one challening the individual mandate. The court has scheduled an oral hearing for Aug. 2 to consider the remaining claims.


    Primary Plaintiff
    : Barbara Goudy-Bachman and Gregory Bachman

    District Judge & Court: Christopher Conner, Middle District of Pennsylvania

    District Court Status
    : The court ruled it has jurisdiction on Jan. 24, 2011. The court is considering whether the York County couple has a plausible claim that forcing them to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The court will hear oral arguments on July 21.


    Primary Plaintiff: U.S. Citizens Association

    District Judge & Court: David Dowd, Northern District of Ohio

    District Court Status
    : The court agreed on Nov. 22, 2010 to hear a challenge to the health law on four counts, including that the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause, violates due process and the right to privacy. The judge threw out 3 of the 4 counts on Feb. 28, but continues to consider whether the law violates the Commerce Cause. On March 18, the plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of the three counts to the 6th Circuit. Both parties have filed their documents for the appeal. The court has yet to schedule oral arguments.




    Primary Plaintiff
    : Matt Sissel (Pacific Legal Foundation)

    District Judge & Court
    : Beryl A. Howell, District of Columbia

    District Court Status
    : The court is considering the government's motion to dismiss filed on Nov. 15, 2010 and is still considering the plaintiff’s argument that the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause. On June 3, the judge was reassigned. The new presiding judge is Beryl A. Howell.



    Primary Plaintiff
    : Goldwater Institute on behalf of Nick Coons, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., former Rep. John Shadegg

    District Judge & Court
    : G. Murray Snow, District of Arizona

    District Court Status: The court is considering a motion filed by plaintiffs on Nov. 16, 2010 requesting a preliminary injunction against implementation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) in the health law. In addition to arguing that the individual mandate violates the Constitution, the plaintiffs also charge that the IPAB violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. The IPAB is a Medicare cost savings board in the law. On April 18 and May 31, the government filed motions asking the court to dismiss the case. On July 7 the plaintiff filed their response defending their standing, and the government responded on July 14.


    Primary Plaintiff: State of Oklahoma

    District Judge & Court: Judge Ronald White, Eastern District of Oklahoma

    District Court Status
    : Suit filed on Jan. 21, 2011 to challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate. On March 28, the government filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the state lacks standing to challenge the individual mandate.




    Primary Plaintiff
    : Arthur Enloe (class action filed by Liberty Legal Foundation)

    District Judge & Court
    : Sam Cummings, Northern District of Texas

    District Court Status
    : Plaintiff says it represents 30,000 individuals and companies that have joined them in their suit charging that the health law is unconstitutional because it violates the 10th Amendment. This case was filed after a similar suit was dismissed in the Eastern District of Tennessee. On May 31, the government filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing. The plaintiffs responsed on July 7 that they have sufficient standing under the standard used in the 6th Circuit appeal of Thomas More Law Center vs. Obama.



    This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



Related References