Power Play

Federal Judge in New Jersey Dismisses Case Challenging 'Obamacare'

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 (iStock)

A federal judge in New Jersey tossed out a challenge to President Obama's health care law Thursday, ruling that the pair behind the lawsuit lacked legal standing.

Nicholas E. Purpura and Donald R. Laster, both of New Jersey, filed the suit last September seeking to derail the law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will go into full effect in 2014. The law, Obama's signature domestic achievement, has already ignited a storm of controversy over its cost and the waivers granted since it was enacted a year ago.

The pair's suit was among nearly two dozen challenging the constitutionality of the law, in particular the individual mandate that would require all U.S. citizens to buy health care or face penalties. 

Three federal judges, all appointed by Democrats, have already ruled the law constitutional while two Republican-appointed ones have called it the other way. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue next year.

In the pair's complaint, they argued that not only is the law unconstitutional, but also illegal and fraudulent. 

Among their allegations was the overhaul was signed into law by someone ineligible to president -- a reference to a belief held by a fringe movement known as "birthers" that Obama was not born in the United States

They alleged the law violated the First Amendment because it would exempt Muslims and the Amish from the individuate mandate. They also said the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it provides funding to "historically black and minority serving colleges and taxes tanning salons."

Attorneys for the administration fired back that the case should be dismissed because the pair didn't explain why they were entitled to challenge the law. And Judge Freda Wolfson characterized the pair's allegations as "generalized grievances."

After the administration filed its motion to dismiss the case, the two argued they were personally affected by the law because Purpura, 68, would lose access to popular private insurance plans offered through Medicare and lose privacy of his medical records while Laster, who is disabled, would be taxed on medical devices that cross state lines and be restricted to drugs approved by government officials.

But Wolfson ruled that those allegations were not enough to show that the law had caused them to suffer or posed an immediate theat.

"Considered on their own ... it is clear that these allegations fail to establish Plantiffs' standing to challenge any of the provisions of the act," Wolfson wrote in her ruling.