Cuccinelli sounds upbeat on healthcare challenge despite legal drubbing

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The plaintiffs "have built their challenge almost entirely on the premise that Congress can regulate 'activity,' but cannot regulate 'inactivity'," decades-long court reporter Lyle Denniston wrote on the  SCOTUSblog. "That attempted distinction, so clear in the eye of the challengers, seemed fundamentally baffling — and thus probably unconvincing — to the three judges."

Cuccinelli however appeared to derive an opposite conclusion from the judges' confusion.

"There's no question that, for instance, Judge [Diana Gribbon] Motz, when they finished two hours of argument back and forth with three different lawyers, she was still saying to the federal government, 'Look, I don't see a meaningful distinction here between doing nothing, inactivity and activity'," Cuccinelli told Fox News. "How do you confine this mandate to health care?"

Cuccinelli ended by guessing that the Supreme Court would hear arguments during the last week of June 2012, soon before the presidential election.

The next appeals court to hear challenges to the law will be the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati on June 1. The judges in that case were announced Tuesday, and have a much different ideological make-up than the Richmond trio: While Circuit Judge Boyce Martin, Jr. was appointed by Jimmy Carter, Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton is a George W. Bush appointee and District Judge James Graham was appointed by Ronald Reagan.