The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit began hearing arguments earlier this week in what many legal academics are calling a crucial case. This began the challenge of examining two lawsuits charging that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
A board made up of three judges listened and debated basic points of constitutional law with attorneys for over two hours in the first appellate arguments. The appeals are based on decisions made by federal courts in Virginia. One federal court ruled that the health reform mandating individuals to purchase insurance by 2014 or be fined was constitutional.
Another case heard in federal court on behalf of (the Commonwealth) Virginia was struck down. Now both rulings are being appealed. Opponents of the Healthcare Reform Act say that Congress had no right to pass the law as it exceeds their power to regulate interstate commerce.
The Republican Party has been working at all levels to turn the healthcare law since it was first passed. Republicans in the House of Representatives have tried to abolish the healthcare reform but have been blocked by the Democratic controlled Senate.
These cases are two of five cases currently in the federal appeals courts that are challenging the healthcare reform law. So far, there have been 31 cases filed (mostly by individual states) in several federal courts that are opposing the healthcare reform law as unconstitutional.
Supporters of the health reform act say the law is a key part of a wide-ranging program created to decrease the cost of health care across the United States. This particular hearing is crucial since it may set precedence for the other upcoming trials this summer.