The attorney general got a win from a Virginia district court in December, when a judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act's mandate that nearly all Americans must have health insurance is unconstitutional. The Justice Department appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit.
Brian Gottstein, communications director for Cuccinelli's office, says his boss is disappointed, but not surprised by the Supreme Court's decision. The Commonwealth will be fully prepared to present its case to the 4th circuit in May, he adds
"It'll be heard here in Richmond on May 10 in the 4th Circuit," Gottstein says, "and perhaps in the fall, it will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Even though Cuccinelli will now be forced to go through the normal appeals process, he may find sympathetic ears among 4th Circuit judges.
George Washington University law professor Peter Smith, who happens to believe Cuccinelli is on the wrong side of the legal argument over the health-care law, says the 4th Circuit has been perceived as conservative for quite some time.
"I would not be particularly surprised if the 4th Circuit agrees with the district court that the individual mandate provision is unconstitutional," Smith says.
Smith says the case could still reach the Supreme Court by the spring of 2012.