Virginia ruling won't skip federal appeals court

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday afternoon it will appeal a district court ruling that a key part of the new healthcare reform law is unconstitutional.

A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that Congress cannot force individuals to purchase healthcare insurance, as required by the reform law in 2014. U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson only struck down the individual mandate and allowed the rest of the law to stand.

The administration will appeal the district court ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement. Some Republicans, including incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) had called on President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to fast-track the appeal to the Supreme Court. 

"Virginia’s suit is based on a state statute that is not applicable nationwide, and the department believes this case should follow the ordinary course of allowing the courts of appeals to hear it first so the issues and arguments can be fully developed before the Supreme Court decides whether to consider it," Schmaler said. "As Judge Hudson noted in denying an injunction, the individual responsibility provision does not go into effect until 2014, so there is more than sufficient time for the courts to consider this case in their normal course of business.”