Health Care Law Gets First Appellate Hearing on Tuesday
Posted May 9, 2011 4:30 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A federal appeals court based in Richmond, Va., will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the federal health care law on Tuesday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the first appellate court to consider the law, USA Today reports. At issue is the constitutionality of a provision that requires people to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Challengers claim Congress has no power under the commerce clause to require the purchase of insurance.
Two cases are before the court. State officials were the plaintiffs in one case, Virginia v. Sebelius. A Christian college is the plaintiff in the other, Liberty University v. Geitner. In Sebelius, the lower court struck down the health insurance requirement and in Liberty University the trial judge upheld it, the New York Times reports. In all, 31 suits have been filed challenging the law.
Judges on the appeals panel are not yet known. The 4th Circuit is one of only three U.S. appeals courts that decline to release judges' names until the day of arguments, according to USA Today.
The court also has "a distinctive code of courtesy" in which judges descend from the bench and shake hands with lawyers at the conclusion of oral arguments, the story says. The 4th Circuit is also known for issuing quick decisions, sometimes within months of a hearing.
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