The U.S. Court of Appeals in Virginia questioned whether it has the authority to decide the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul.
The three-judge panel in Richmond said yesterday the question is whether the Anti-Injunction Act, which generally bars decisions on tax law before taxes are collected, prevents the court from ruling on a challenge to the statute’s requirement that most Americans buy health insurance.
“It’s an interesting twist,” said Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “This is an apparent resurrection of an issue the parties once argued about and seemingly put behind them.”
The judges are reviewing one lower-court ruling that upheld the health-care law and another that struck down part of it. On May 10, during back-to-back arguments lasting about two hours, the issue of the court’s jurisdiction was touched on by one of the lawyers then dropped without questions from the court.
The Virginia appeals stem from a challenge to the law by the state of Virginia and another by Liberty University, a Christian school founded in Lynchburg, Virginia, by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.