Supreme Court Says No to Expedited Hearing on Health-Care Reform Law

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Virginia's attorney general had asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual appeals process by allowing his state's challenge to the Obama health-care reform law to proceed directly to the high court.

The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to immediately take up Virginia's challenge to the constitutionality of the new health- care reform law.

Virginia's Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had asked the court to bypass the usual appeals process by allowing the case to proceed directly from a district-court ruling to the nation's highest court.

The justices, without comment, refused the request.

The action means that Virginia's challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will next be heard by a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Oral argument in that case is scheduled to take place in two weeks, on May 10.

The Fourth Circuit will take up a second challenge to the health- care reform law on that same day.

In opposing Mr. Cuccinelli's beeline to the high court, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued in his brief that several constitutional challenges to the health-care law were already being considered in the appeals courts on an expedited basis - including Cuccinelli's case.

"Given the court of appeals' imminent consideration of this case, there is no basis for short-circuiting the normal course of appellate review," Mr. Katyal wrote.

To date, federal district judges have issued five decisions on the constitutionality of the health-care law's individual mandate - the requirement that each citizen must purchase a government- approved level of health insurance or pay a penalty.

Three judges have ruled that Congress acted within its power to regulate interstate commerce when it enacted the measure. Two judges - including the judge in Cuccinelli's case - ruled that the individual mandate exceeds congressional power because it seeks to regulate not just economic activity (the purchase of health insurance) but also economic inactivity (a citizen's failure to purchase health insurance).

In addition to the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, appeals are pending at the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, and the federal appeals court in Washington, D. …