Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius


Eastern District of Virginia *State as Plaintiff*


Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli representing the Commonwealth of Virginia


Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Henry E. Hudson

Case number:



During the 2010 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly, the commonwealth government enacted a statute forbidding a mandate to purchase health insurance. The plaintiff challenges the PPACA based on its inclusion of the individual health insurance mandate. The complaint explains that whether or not a Virginian purchases health insurance is not a matter of interstate commerce, and that therefore Congress cannot regulate it as part of its powers according to the Commerce Clause. Furthermore, the plaintiff sites previous cases (U.S. v. Lopez, U.S. v. Morrison, Gonzales v. Raich, McCulloch v. Maryland, and Calder v. Bull), and argues that Congress has never had the power to require the purchase of any good or service. To give Congress this power now undermines the concept of enumerated powers in the U.S. Constitution.

Status: In this lawsuit on August 2, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled against the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, meaning the case will proceed. On October 18, a summary judgment hearing is set to decide the constitutionality health care reform.  Defendants filed their Opposition to the Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on September 23. During the October 18th Hearing for Summary Judgment, Judge Hudson asked the Defendents how “not engaging in commerce” can be governed.  Government responded that not purchasing insurance is “an economic decision” and will cause the unengaged to use public assistance therefore impacting the entire economy. Plaintiffs therefore contended that if the government can force you to buy insurance so that you won’t receive government assistance, than they can force you to buy a car because otherwise you’d be using public transportation.

Until October 18, the date of the hearing, eight different amici ("friends of the Court") had filed memorandums in support of Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, including Landmark Legal Foundations, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the American Civil Rights Union. One amicus brief has been filed in support of the Defendent's motion for summary judgment by the Young Invincibles.

December 13 update: Judge Hudson rules that the individual mandate is unconstituional.

Most recently, Cuccinelli filed a Rule 11 request with the Supreme Court (a request that SCOTUS take up his case directly after the district court ruling due to immediate public importance).  The Supreme Court denied this request.  Therefore, the case will continue to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a hearing on May 10, 2011.

On September 8, 2011, the Fourth Circuit dismissed this case on a standing issue.


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PDF files:

Commonwealth of Virginia-Sebelius

Virginia Answer to Complaint August 16

Virginia Order on Motion to Dismiss August 2

Summary Judgment Opinion December 13



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