Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Health-Care Reform Law Is Constitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Health-Care Reform Law Is Constitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Article excerpt

Legal challenges to health-care reform include a lawsuit filed on behalf of Liberty University in Virginia. On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed that suit. Others remain outstanding.

A federal judge in Virginia has concluded that President Obama's health-care reform law complies with the requirements of the Constitution.

The decision by US District Judge Norman Moon in Lynchburg, Va., comes in one of several legal challenges mounted by opponents of the controversial health-care law.

A federal judge in Michigan upheld the law in a ruling in October. Similar litigation is under way before federal judges in Florida and Richmond, Va.

Plaintiffs are hopeful the cases will eventually reach the US Supreme Court.

In a 54-page ruling released on Tuesday, Judge Moon said the health-care reform law fits "well within Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause."

The Lynchburg lawsuit was filed on behalf of Liberty University, a conservative Christian school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. The suit was also filed on behalf of several individuals who claim the new law will force them to subsidize abortions in violation of their religious beliefs.

In rejecting challenges to the law on religious grounds, the judge said the act contains "strict safeguards at multiple levels to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortion services beyond those in cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered."

The suit also attacked the reform effort as an unconstitutional expansion of federal power at the expense of individuals and state governments.

At the center of the controversy over the reform law is the so- called individual mandate - the requirement that every qualifying American purchase a government-designated level of health insurance or pay a penalty.

Opponents claim the provision is not a valid regulation of interstate commerce. …

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