Justice Dept. to Appeal Health Care Ruling

Justice Department officials have said that they will appeal yesterday's ruling from a Virginia judge that declares parts of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said on Tuesday that the current suit is among several pending across the nation, four of which have been unsuccessful, and that she is confident the law will remain wholly intact once reaching the higher courts.

"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 in a statement.

Judge Henry Hudson ruled on Monday that Congress exceeded its authority by adding provisions in the health-care law requiring citizens to purchase health insurance.

"Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative healthcare regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds," Hudson wrote in his opinion.

Conservatives, including anti-abortion activists who accuse the health-care law of allowing for federally funded abortions, applauded the ruling.

Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, urged citizens to act to protect the law, which he says will ehlp ensure that health care will be available to all Americans.

"Rather than fighting to undo the progress we've made, and returning to the days when one out of seven Americans was denied insurance due to their medical histories, supporters of repeal should work with us to implement this law effectively," Holder said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. "The initial decisions about the Affordable Care Act will be reviewed on appeal. We are confident that the law will ultimately be upheld."

The $938 billion Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was narrowly approved by the House of Representatives in March and is considered the hallmark of President Obama's first year in office.

Republican leaders have been staunchly opposed to the law since its inception and have named repealing the act as one of their top priorities.

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