RICHMOND - Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today regarding the ruling by Judge Henry E. Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that Section 1501, the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision, commonly referred to as the "individual mandate," of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is unconstitutional. "I am pleased by today's ruling. Judge Hudson has clearly, and correctly, found the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution does not provide the Congress the power to mandate that an individual purchase a specific product or policy, and then exact a penalty for a failure to not make the purchase. This decision sets the correct limits on federal power in favor of individual liberty, and supports the critical tenants of federalism enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
The inclusion of an individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act far exceeded the limited powers granted by our Founders to the federal government. For this reason, this past winter Virginia lawmakers joined together, in a bipartisan fashion, to pass the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act. I was glad to sign that legislation into law in March. I was joined at that bill signing by Virginia's Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. This legislation gave the Attorney General the clear basis, and the obligation, to bring this challenge forward on behalf of the people of Virginia. The Attorney General has undertaken his duty with intellect, determination and a focus on ensuring that the Constitution and individual liberties are respected and upheld. I congratulate him and his excellent litigation team for today's positive decision.
In ruling that the individual mandate contained in the federal health care act is unconstitutional, Judge Hudson has provided declaratory, but not injunctive, relief. This is owing to the three years that still remain between today and the effective date of implementation of the mandate, which is set for 2014 in the federal legislation. However, like all other states, Virginia will incur many millions of dollars in expenses to prepare for the implementation of this plan. The Judge is aware, as are all observers and participants in this case, that today's decision is not the end of this matter, but rather another step towards a final decision. That decision will ultimately be made by the Supreme Court of the United States.
To ensure that the case can reach the nation's highest court in the most timely of manners, which should be a goal embraced by all parties involved, regardless of their policy position on the PPACA, I urge the United States Department of Justice to join with Attorney General Cuccinelli in supporting fast tracking of this case directly to the Supreme Court. Both sides should seek to waive a hearing in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and allow this monumental case to move immediately to the U.S. Supreme Court for prompt final resolution. To encourage such a decision, I have asked all governors and governors-elect to join me in a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder asking for his agreement to an expedited review. There must be certainty and finality in order for our businesses and citizens to both know and adhere to the law.
All Virginians, and Americans, need access to affordable and dependable health care. We are taking many steps in the Commonwealth to ensure that access for our citizens. These are steps based on free-market solutions and individual liberty. No level of government should seek to achieve a goal, no matter how worthwhile, at the price of our freedoms and constitutional protections. Unfortunately, that is what occurred with the passage of the PPACA. Today's ruling is a victory for the United States Constitution, our federalist system of government, and individual liberty. I urge the immediate progression of this case to the Supreme Court and look forward to a positive and final decision upon their hearing of this case."