The Fourth Circuit just handed down two opinions ordering that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act, along with another challenge to brought by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, both must be dismissed entirely on jurisdictional grounds. Judge Davis dissented from the Liberty University opinion to say that he would reach the merits and uphold the law. Today’s decisions are the first court of appeals decisions to dismiss a case for want of jurisdiction after a lower court reached the merits — potentially raising the possibility that one or more of the justices could agree with them and prevent this constitutional question from being decided on the merits until after 2014.
The Cuccinelli case is the infamous ruling by District Court Judge Henry Hudson. Hudson, also known as "the tea party judge," ruled against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that its individual mandate provision was unconstitutional. Today's decision vacates his ruling. From the decision: "we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case to that court to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction."