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Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Court Challenges

Nov 14, 2011

Appeals courts have ruled on six challenges to the health law, and three more currently await appeals courts rulings. But the focus has now shifted to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Nov. 14 announced it would hear the appeal of Florida vs. HHS.

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.  (Last update: Nov. 14, 2011)

Appeals Court Status & Rulings

  • Florida vs. HHS: Supreme Court announced on Nov. 14 that it would hear this case. (jump to)
  • Susan Seven-Sky vs. Holder: Appeals court ruled law constitutional on Nov. 8 (jump to)
  • Virginia vs. Sebelius: Appeals court ruled against plaintiffs on Sept. 8 (jump to)
  • Liberty University vs. Geithner: Appeals court ruled against plaintiffs on Sept. 8 (jump to) Baldwin & Pacific Justice Institute vs. Sebelius: Appeals court upheld district court dismissal on Aug. 12. (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)
  • Kinder vs. Geithner: Oral arguments heard on Oct. 20. (jump to)

District Court Status & Rulings

  • Court overturned law or part of law: 3 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 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. The government on Sept. 28 appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Status:  The Supreme Court announced on Nov. 14 that it will hear the appeal to this case in its next term.

 

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:  In a unanimous ruling on Sept. 8, the court ruled against the plaintiffs, vacated the district court judgement and remanded the case to that court "to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." 

 

Primary Plaintiff: Barbara Goudy-Bachman and Gregory Bachman

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

District Court Status: The court ruled on Sept. 13 that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.  Judge Connor wrote that allowing the individual mandate to stand “would effectively sanction Congress’s exercise of police power under the auspices of the Commerce Clause, jeopardizing the integrity of our dual sovereignty structure.”

 

 


 

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:  In a 2-1 ruling on Sept. 8, the court ruled against the plaintiffs, vacated the district court judgement and remanded the case to that court "to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction."  Judge Davis dissented.

 

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.  The Justice Department has until Sept. 28 to respond.

 

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 (G. W. Bush), Harry Edwards (Carter), Laurence Silberman (Reagan), D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

Appeals Court Status:  On Nov. 8, the appeals court upheld the district court ruling and found the individual mandate constitutional.

 

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 filed briefs for the appeal; oral arguments are not expected before 2012.

 


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.

Appeals Judges & Court:  Kermit E. Bye (Clinton), Lavenski R. Smith (GW Bush), Steven M. Colloton (GW Bush), 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Appeals Court Status:  The judges heard arguments on Oct. 20 about the standing of the plaintiffs. 

 

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 DECISION PENDING

Primary Plaintiff: Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and 10 other Mississippians

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. On Aug. 29, Judge Starrett ruled largely against the government, allowing Bryant the “standing” to sue, as an individual, because of the individual mandate. The judge also refused to dismiss the plaintiffs’ medical privacy claim against the law. 

 

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: 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.

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