Very few details yet The Complaint is now available. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made good on his promise to bring a lawsuit against the federal government over the healthcare bill.
According to the docket of the Eastern District of Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, Case no. 3:10-cv-00188-REP (E.D. Va.), was filed today. No documents are yet available on the Court's electronic document.
The assigned judge is Robert E. Payne.
As Attorney General Cuccinelli promised last night on Fox News (link goes to TPM, not Fox):
"We'll be in court tomorrow [Tuesday]," said Cuccinelli. "We'll file in the eastern district of Virginia, the Richmond division, in the 'rocket docket.' And we'll be off to the courts to question the constitutionality of the individual mandate in particular."
He affirmed that the briefs are already written, and ready to be filed.
"I don't think noon is unreasonable," Cuccinelli also said, explaining that his office is just a block from the courthouse.
"Filing is not a problem," he said. "Weather won't even be a problem."
Filing shouldn't be a problem, as court documents can be filed electronically. But an interesting question is whether this lawsuit will take the sails out of the effort by former Congressman Bill McCollum & Friends, who filed a similar lawsuit minutes after the health care bill was signed. The Eastern District of Virginia is extraordinarily swift in dispensing with cases. For that reason it is known as the "Rocket Docket."
With the pace set by the Rocket Docket, we may be seeing a result to this case before McCollum's lawsuit...and perhaps before the November elections.* * *
Well, one need only read the Complaint to see that this is about politics, and not the law. This is an underwhelming complaint.
Weighing in at seven pages, the Complaint asserts a challenge to the ability of Congress to enact healthcare legislation of this type through its Commerce Clause powers.
I will offer a much more lengthy and detailed diary on both lawsuits tomorrow, but as for now, I always thought the question of whether this type of lawsuit could succeed or fail would turn on one question: How on Earth could Congress enact something like Social Security and Medicare but somehow not have the power to pass this legislation? If they are going to succeed, they better have a damned good answer for that one.
What's Virginia's answer? According to the Complaint, it's this:
In United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), and United States v. Morrison,529 U.S. 598 (2000), the Supreme Court struck down attempts to regulate non·commercial activities based upon their predicted effects on interstate commerce because those attempts went beyond the outer limits of the Commerce Clause. Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 25 (2005) (Despite congressional findings that such crimes had an adverse impact on interstate commerce, we held the statute [in Morrison] unconstitutional because, like the statute in Lopez, it did not regulate economic activity.").
Didn't these guys just spend half a year complaining that this bill was a disaster because it constituted government regulation of one-sixth of the United States economy?
If this is the best they can come up with, they have nothing.