White House confident as Virginia healthcare suit moves forward

State challenges to the new healthcare law will fail, the White House confidently predicted Monday after a suit brought by Virginia's Republican attorney general moved forward.

Stephanie Cutter, an assistant to President Obama who was brought on board at the White House in part to help sell the signature domestic initiative, dismissed a court's ruling against a White House bid to dismiss the suit.

"Having failed in the legislative arena, opponents of reform are now turning to the courts in an attempt to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government. This is nothing new," Cutter wrote on the official White House blog.

"We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act – constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed. So too will the challenge to health reform."

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) brought the lawsuit against the new healthcare law. He argues a provision requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty violates the Constitution's commerce clause.

The administration had sought to dismiss the suit, arguing Cuccinelli lacked standing to bring the court challenge. But a federal judge on Monday disagreed and allowed the suit to move forward.

Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius also downplayed the decision, arguing it was merely a procedural move that has no bearing on the underlying issues.

"We remain confident that the case is solid," Sebelius told reporters during a phone call on the reform law's effects on Medicare spending.

Cutter emphasized that the court did not rule on the merits of the Virginia suit, but only on whether it could go forward.

"The court’s procedural ruling states only that the complaint could not be dismissed at this preliminary stage," she wrote.

The administration expected, as the case proceeds, to "prevail on the merits," the veteran Democratic operative wrote.

Updated 2:44 p.m.