RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The national debate over healthcare was center stage Thursday in Richmond. The Federal Government argued that Ken Cuccinelli's lawsuit over President Obama's reform plan should be tossed out.
You could sense the gravity of the hearing, by just looking at the attorneys arguing the case. The hands of both seasoned litigators were literally shaking as they made their respective arguments, in this case that is being watched by the entire country. Arguments that were not designed to prove or reject the entire case, but still made clear what direction both sides were headed.
The federal government, whose case was argued by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ian Gershengorn, argued that everyone is partaking in the health care market, or will at some point. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will just even the playing field to make sure everyone chips in.
The Commonwealth of Virginia -- in the form of the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli -- disagrees.
"What the federal government is doing in this case is utterly unprecedented," Cuccinelli said afterward. "[They are] attempting to order Americans into commerce, ordering them to buy a product they do not want."
Cuccinelli was in the courtroom, but handed the arguments off to Solicitor General Duncan Getchell. Getchell argued that the case should move forward in part, because much of the action taken in the health care reform law has never happened before -- and the courts should get the chance to weigh in.
While the Attorney General's office is arguing a very narrow provision of the new law, the requirement to purchase health insurance, its impact would effectively destroy the overall plan. Something that scares reform advocates like Beverley James of the Virginia Organizing Project.
"I strongly believe that everyone should be eligible for some sort of health insurance for the most basic health care," James said.
But the ultimate decision in this case is in the distant future. Right now its just about wether or not it will move forward. After two hours worth of in depth argument, Cuccinelli isn't ready to predict an outcome.
"We have all learned long ago not to judge courtroom reactions in changing your estimations about your prospects for success," he said.
Meaning we won't really know what to expect, until the judge offers his opinion.
And that judge, Henry Hudson is no stranger to high profile cases. He presided over the Michael Vick dog fighting case. He said he will offer his opinion within 30 days.