Fourth Circuit Agrees To Take Obamacare Appeal Early

In a bit of breaking news, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to an expedited hearing of the federal government's appeal of Virginia's legal challenge to the federal health care law. Here's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's news release:

RICHMOND (January 26, 2011) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today granted a joint motion from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the federal government to expedite the hearing of Virginia’s suit against the federal health care law. The case is tentatively scheduled for hearing sometime between May 10 and 13. This replaces a briefing order previously issued by the court.

"Right now, there is a great deal of uncertainty for states, individuals, and businesses. Major decisions are already being made and money is already being spent to comply with a law that may not be around two years from now. We need this suit resolved as quickly as possible, for the good of our citizens and our economy," said Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli is still weighing whether or not to request that the U.S. Supreme Court take the case directly and skip the Fourth Circuit altogether.

The court ordered the following briefing schedule:

Opening briefs due February 28

Response briefs due March 28

Reply briefs due April 11

More information on the health care lawsuit can be found at the attorney general's health care archive, here. Virginia won round one late last year when Federal Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia declared the statute unconstitutional. The Obama administration's appeal is of that decision.