This article is part of the State Status and News series related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he is in a unique position to challenge recently passed federal health care reform legislation.

Cuccinelli did not join in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by 13 state attorneys general after President Barack Obama, but instead elected to file a suit of his own. He says Virginia law prevents the federal government from being able to require Virginians purchase health insurance.


Cuccinelli's seven-page complaint is 16 pages shorter than the one filed by his colleagues in Florida federal court.


O'Brien, John. “Cuccinelli Says Virginia Law Prevents Health Insurance Mandate”. LegalNewsline. March 24, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-06.

Democratic leaders have slammed the effort by 14 states to bring lawsuits against health care reform as “frivolous,” a waste of taxpayer money, and a political gambit by media-hungry state officials. But some vulnerable Dems who supported health care reform can't afford to be so scathing. Take Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who describes these legal efforts as “an appropriate gesture,” even while maintaining his own support for the health care law.

In a telephone town hall meeting with constituents last Wednesday, Perriello tried to assure irate callers that he didn't dispute Virginia's right to challenge the Affordable Care Act in court. “I support [the state's] right to bring it,” Perriello told incensed constituents, referring to the lawsuit led by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. “I know some think it's a waste of taxpayer money, but…it's why it's appropriate to have an independent judicial branch.”


Likewise, Sen. Ben Nelson—another Democrat under attack in his home state of Nebraska for supporting health reform—has also welcomed the challenges to the law, according to a state paper.

Both Democrats are trying to take the edge off the Tea Party hysteria without ceding any ground on the merits of reform. That's a delicate balancing act—one that suggests that Dems defending conservative-leaning seats see their health care vote as a serious cause for concern as the elections approach.

Khimm, Suzy. “Dem Rep. Perriello: Health Care Lawsuits Are 'Appropriate'”. Mother Jones. April 12, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-12.