The Fourth Circuit is slated to hear two appeals in cases testing the constitutionality of the new federal health care law on Tuesday. (HT: VLWblog.)
Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal will defend the law against separate challenges brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Commonwealth v. Sebelius, No. 11-1057, and Liberty University, Liberty University v. Geithner, No. 10-2347.
That’s an impressive lineup, and well-worth checking out if you’re in Richmond. The first two names ought to be familiar enough to readers of this blog, and Dean Staver’s bio is impressive. He’s been involved in the evangelical law and policy movement, and he has two SCOTUS arguments under his belt. No slouch, this guy. Also, he reads Classical Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Koine Greek. So he’s got that going for him.
Can’t make it to Richmond? Not to worry: Starting with the May term, the Fourth Circuit will post the audio from oral arguments on its website two days after the argument, and sooner for high-profile cases.
I’d say these qualify.
The two cases are the first of more than 20 suits challenging the law to be argued before an appellate court.
The issues in Sebelius are whether Virginia has standing to challenge the Affordable Care Act, and whether that Act was a valid exercise of the commerce or taxing power.
Liberty takes more of a shotgun approach, questioning whether the Act exceeds Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause; or violates the FIrst, Fifth, or Tenth Amendment, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The arguments will be held in the Fourth Circuit’s largest courtroom, and the court will set up a video and audio feed to an overflow room. They’re likely to need all of the space they can get. To date, more than three dozen amicus briefs have been filed in Sebelius alone. (I will leave the briefs to those of you with a PACER account and a raging case of OCD.)
The Fourth Circuit is notoriously tight-lipped about the composition of its panels, so we won’t find out which judges will hear the appeals until Tuesday.