A federal judge in Richmond has ruled that a significant part of the sweeping federal health care law is unconstitutional, handing a victory to Va. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose office brought the lawsuit challenging the law.
U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Henry Hudson rejected the federal government's argument that it could require Americans to purchase insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014, when the provision would take effect.
In a teleconference following the decision, Cuccinelli called this a great day for the constitution, but also acknowledged that his fight is far from over.
"I think it's a reasonable presumption that this will all end at the U.S. Supreme Court, and while we look forward to getting there, we're much happier to go with a win in round one," he says.
The lawsuit was a logical extension of Virginia's Health Care Freedom Act, passed by state lawmakers in the spring. It states that no Virginian shall be forced to buy health insurance.
Cuccinelli pointed out that the state law was a bipartisan effort.
"That bipartisan effort was not a squeaker -- the last vote in the House of Delegates was 90-to-3," he says.
Northern Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D) says he strongly disagrees with the ruling. He says he's not surprised by the ruling, however, because he regards Hudson as a conservative judge.
"I think Judge Hudson's conservative ideology is somewhat at odds with the majority of the American people," Moran says.
Hudson is the first federal judge to rule against the health care law. Other judges in Virginia and Michigan have upheld its constitutionality.