Posted on 15 Sep 2010
On Tuesday U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson set December 16 as the date to hear arguments on a lawsuit by 20 U.S. states seeking to block President Barack Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.
The Florida judge, who is weighing a motion by the Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuit, ordered the follow-up hearing on the lawsuit led by his state and involving 19 other states, which was originally filed in March by mostly Republican state attorneys general.
Vinson said he would formally rule on the dismissal motion by October 14, but Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said the judge had already strongly indicated that the case would not be dismissed.
"The judge's apparent decision today means we will proceed," McCollum told reporters.
He was referring to what transpired during nearly two hours of arguments in Vinson's Pensacola courtroom on Tuesday. During the hearing the judge said he would likely reject "at least one" of the government's motions for dismissal of the case but he did not elaborate.
An adverse ruling on the dismissal would be a setback for the White House, forcing it to defend its reforms in the middle of a tough campaign before the November midterm congressional elections.
The lawsuit claims the sweeping reform of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system, pushed through by Pesident Obama's fellow Democrats in the U.S. Congress after months of bitter partisan wrangling, violates state government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on hard-pressed state governments.
The new healthcare law is a cornerstone of President Obama's domestic agenda and aims to expand health insurance for millions more Americans while curbing costs. Obama officials have insisted it is constitutional and necessary to stem huge projected increases in healthcare expenses.