Fourth Circuit: Individual Mandate Plaintiffs Lack Standing

By Robyn Hagan Cain on September 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lacks standing to bring a lawsuit challenging the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

In its Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius opinion, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “A state possesses no legitimate interest in protecting its citizens from the government of the United States.”

Not to be outdone by the Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, which have also ruled on Affordable Care Act cases, the Fourth Circuit issued a second Affordable Care Act opinion in Liberty University v. Timothy Geithner, in which it found that Liberty University’s challenge to the individual mandate penalties could not be reviewed under the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA).

The court noted in Liberty University that Affordable Care Act penalties were a type of tax that could not be attacked through pre-enforcement, but reserved the possibility that Liberty University could renew its claim after the Act becomes effective in 2014.

In an unusual turn, Fourth Circuit Judge Wynn submitted a concurring opinion in Liberty University, stating that he would have upheld the individual mandate if the AIA had not stripped the court of jurisdiction in the matter.

If you're tracking the judicial progress of the individual mandate challenges, here's a recap:

Now that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the cases out of Virginia, we think that the individual mandate issue is officially ripe for Supreme Court treatment. Will the Court grant cert when it returns from summer recess? Will the individual mandate stand? We're betting yes on all of the above. Be sure to check out FindLaw's Supreme Court blog for Supreme Court news and updates on the individual mandate challenge.

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