The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered supplemental briefing in the two pending cases that challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The appellate court has asked parties in both cases to address questions about a “tax” under the Anti-Injunction Act.
On May 10, the 4th Circuit became the first federal appellate court to hear challenges to the legislation that set a new requirement for individuals to maintain a basic level of health insurance, as part of the PPACA’s effort to overhaul how health care is financed in America. A panel of the court heard argument in two cases: Liberty University Inc. v. Geithner, a case from Lynchburg federal district court that upheld the “individual mandate” for insurance coverage; and Commonwealth v. Sebelius, a Richmond federal court decision striking the individual mandate.
This morning, the Richmond-based appeals court issued two orders posing three identical questions for the parties: 1) When applicable, does the Anti-Injunction Act deprive a federal court of subject matter jurisdiction, and if so, does it divest federal courts of jurisdiction in this case? 2) Can a court determine that a challenged exaction qualifies as a “tax” for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act without reaching the question of whether the exaction qualifies as a “tax” for purposes of Art. I, § 8, cl. 1? and 3) Assuming the Anti-Injunction Act does apply in this case, does a plaintiff have the ability to challenge the exaction provided by § 5000A in a refund suit or otherwise?
Briefs of no more than 10 pages are due to the court May 31, 2011.
By Deborah Elkins