Group sees momentum before Thursday hearing in reform law challenge

The Virginia ruling Monday struck down the individual mandate, but Judge Henry E. Hudson upheld the rest of the reform law and rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request for an injunction that would stop implementation of the law.

Harned said reform law opponents on Thursday will push U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson for an injunction. Although the reform law’s individual mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014, an injunction could help businesses deal with the uncertainty surrounding possible repeal of the law, Harned said.

“I’m afraid we’re going to be living in a gray area for a while,” she said.

The Florida case, along with Monday’s ruling, is expected to wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before Hudson’s ruling on Monday, two other courts had already upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Harned thinks the Hudson decision holds just as much weight as the other rulings. 

“I’m not sure that constitutional issues got as much pen and ink in the other rulings as they did in this one by Hudson,” she said.

Thursday’s oral arguments will focus on much the same as other challenges to the individual mandate in federal court, Harned said. The administration will argue that requiring someone to purchase health insurance is an activity that can be regulated because their decision not to affects the insurance market. Meanwhile, reform opponents will say that compelling someone to buy insurance is just as unconstitutional as forcing someone to buy, say, groceries.

Though the NFIB has a win under its belt, Harned said that momentum alone won’t be enough to carry the Florida challenge.

“At the end of the day, our judge is very confident and independent,” she said. “I feel like he’ll be confident to do what he wants to do.”