Health Care Reform Appeal to be Heard by Panel Appointed by Democratic Presidents

By Nitya

May 10, 2011 8:34am

ABC News' Ariane de Vogue (@Arianedevogue) reports:

Today in Richmond, as Justice Department lawyers prepare to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals just announced that the arguments, which mark the first time a challenge to the health care law has been heard by a federal appeals court, will be heard by three judges who were all appointed by Democratic presidents.

This is significant because up to now the three lower court judges who have ruled in favor of the health care law were appointed by Democratic presidents, and the two who have struck down the law's central provision were nominated by Republican presidents. Now, for the first time, the challenge to the law will be heard by a three-judge appeals court panel; two of the judges were appointed by President Obama and one by President Clinton. The judges are: Diana Motz (Clinton), Andre Davis (Obama) and
James Wynn (Obama).

While significant, this in no way guarantees a victory for the administration. It goes without saying that there is plenty of precedent for a judge appointed by a president from one party to rule in a way that might seem favorable to the opposing party.

Arguments expected to begin at 9:30am, and last about one hour and 20 minutes in total.

A statement from the court explained that the judges were assigned by random selection: "The clerk of the court maintains a list of mature cases available for oral argument and on a monthly basis merges those cases with a list of three judge panels provided by a computer program designed to achieve random selection. "

-Ariane de Vogue

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