News from the other coast, but news that means a lot in California, a state that a year ago was estimated to have 6.6 million residents with no health insurance. Unknown as of this post: the immediate affect of the ruling in California (or anywhere else outside Virginia).

Judge in Va. strikes down federal health care law

A federal judge declared the Obama administration’s health care law unconstitutional Monday, siding with Virginia’s attorney general in a dispute that both sides agree will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson is the first federal judge to strike down the law, which has been upheld by two others in Virginia and Michigan. Several other lawsuits have been dismissed and others are pending, including one filed by 20 other states in Florida.

Virginia Republican Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed a separate lawsuit in defense of a new state law that prohibits the government from forcing state residents to buy health insurance. However, the key issue was his claim that the federal law’s requirement that citizens buy health insurance or pay a penalty is unconstitutional.

Also: See Washington Post’s more nuanced story: Key provision of health-care overhaul ruled unconstitutional. The New York Times has the judge’s 42-page ruling.

Update: From the progressive side, Daily Kos weighs in on the Virginia judge’s decision:

Big story: HCR ruled unconstitutional. Little story: 14 judges disagree

So the “big” story is that a district court judge has ruled that health care reform’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, dealing reform a Massively Major Blow. That must mean the “little” story is that in fourteen previous cases, judges have either dismissed cases against the law’s constitutionality or ruled against those cases.

And from the conservative side, National Review’s The Corner blog reports:

What’s Next for the Virginia Case?

One way or another, an appeal will be filed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, while the state of Virginia will argue that the case is sufficiently time-sensitive that it should move directly to the Supreme Court.

How long will that process take? On a conference call this afternoon, Brian Gottstein, communications director for Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, said one to two years is the best guess: About one year if the Supreme Court agrees to take the case directly from the district court, two if the case is heard first by the Fourth Circuit (and minus a few months if it goes straight to en banc consideration by all the judges on the Fourth Circuit, bypassing a three-judge panel).

Judge Strikes Down Health-Care Law 13 December,2010Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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