A federal appeals court has dismissed a challenge to President Barack Obama's health care reform law.
The ruling vacates a lower court's decision that the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act requiring U.S. citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 is unconstitutional.
The 4th circuit court of appeals did not rule on the question of whether the individual mandate is constitutional. Instead, it found that Virginia did not have sufficient standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place.
"To permit a state to litigate whenever it enacts a statute declaring its opposition to federal law, as Virginia has in the VHCFA, would convert the federal judiciary into a 'forum' for the vindication of a state’s 'generalized grievances about the conduct of government,'" the court ruled.
"Under Virginia’s standing theory, a state could acquire standing to challenge any federal law merely by enacting a statute -- even an utterly unenforceable one -- purporting to prohibit the application of the federal law."
"If we were to adopt Virginia’s standing theory, each state could become a roving constitutional watchdog of sorts," the court continued. "No issue, no matter how generalized or quintessentially political, would fall beyond a state’s power to litigate in federal court."