Supreme Court refuses to expedite health-care reform review

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the request of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to expedite the appellate review of the state’s constitutional challenge of the 2010 federal health-care reform law.

The move had not been unexpected – as the Supreme Court rarely bypasses appellate courts in reviews of constitutional questions. Cuccinelli had asked for an expedited review citing what his office had characterized as a potential negative impact on Virginia and other states due to the pending implementation of the reform law.

“Expediting our case would have been the exception and so, although disappointing, this is not surprising,” Cuccinelli said in a statement today. “We look forward to making our arguments in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on the morning of May 10th here in Richmond. This case’s logical end point is the Supreme Court. It will simply have to make its way through the Fourth Circuit first.”

The move by the Supreme Court likely delays any action by the highest court in the land on the review of the law until 2012.

A federal judge in Richmond ruled in December that a key provision in the law requiring consumers to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. The ruling contradicts other rulings in other federal courts that have found the purchase requirement to be within congressional authority.

“The court’s refusal to hear this case now will force states and businesses to incur increased costs and expend significant effort to begin preparations necessary to ensure compliance with this law, which ultimately may be ruled unconstitutional,” Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who has been critical of the health-care law, said in a statement. “Supporters and opponents of this law should agree on one thing, we need a definitive answer to its constitutionality so that we can move forward in the appropriate manner.”

Democratic Party of Virginia chairman Brian Moran said the Supreme Court “did the right thing” in allowing the normal process for review to play out and urged Cuccinelli to devote more of his office’s resources to fighting for Virginians who are struggling in this economy.

“Instead of using his taxpayer-funded office to challenge a law that has already helped more than 100,000 young Virginians keep their access to health insurance, the attorney general should devote more of his time and our resources to fighting for middle class families that are struggling to find work and stay in their homes in this difficult economy. Virginians should not have to foot the bill for his personal political agenda,” Moran said.

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