DOJ Will Appeal Health Care Lawsuit, Says It Shouldn’t Be Fast Tracked

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM

The Justice Department said Tuesday that they’ll appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the individual mandate contained in the health care law is unconstitutional and said the case shouldn’t head straight for the Supreme Court.

“We intend to appeal the district court’s ruling in Virginia to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler told TPM in a statement.DOJ’s announcement a day after federal judge Henry E. Hudson ruled against the federal government was expected, but comes in the wake of calls by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R) to “fast-track” the judicial process by skipping the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and moving directly to the Supreme Court.

Schmaler noted that four challenges were already being heard by courts of appeals — including one by the Fourth Circuit — and said the case should follow the normal process.

“Virginia’s suit is based on a state statute that is not applicable nationwide, and the Department believes this case should follow the ordinary course of allowing the courts of appeals to hear it first so the issues and arguments can be fully developed before the Supreme Court decides whether to consider it,” Schmaler said.

“As Judge Hudson noted in denying an injunction, the individual responsibility provision does not go into effect until 2014, so there is more than sufficient time for the courts to consider this case in their normal course of business,” Schmaler said.