Colorado Law Professor defends constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act

March 3, 2011

Boulder –  University of Colorado Law School professor Melissa Hart filed an amicus – or ‘friend of the court’  -- brief this week in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) and 25 other national organizations in Liberty University v. Geithner.  The case is one of the first to reach an Appellate court in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Professor Hart worked on the brief pro bono.

 NWLC et al. support affirmance of the District court's decision that the ACA is constitutional.  Professor Hart’s brief focuses particularly on the ways in which the health care reform was part of a tradition of civil rights legislation. In addition to general regulation of the health insurance and health care markets, the ACA specifically targeted a number of discriminatory policies that had affected many classes, women particularly.  As a comprehensive regulation of a national market, the health care bill was also an important statement by Congress about the national commitment to nondiscrimination in the provision of such fundamental services as basic health care.

“The nationwide consequences of the insurance market’s failure to meet underserved constituencies -- including women’s needs -- are significant,” said Professor Hart. “The Affordable Care Act is a comprehensive system of regulation designed to lower health care costs, to provide minimum standards of coverage for health insurance and to end some of the most significant barriers to broadly inclusive health care access.”

The Affordable Care Act was a federal statute that was signed into U.S. Law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 as part of his health care reform. The laws focus on reform of the private health insurance market and provide for better coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, as well as improving prescription drug coverage in Medicare and extending the life of the Medicare Trust fund.

Liberty University v. Geithner is one of five federal legal challenges to the ACA and one of three to uphold its constitutionality. Six other challenges were dismissed because of lack of sufficient standing; whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of a particular issue.  The Supreme Court could review this law as early as the end of 2011.

Professor Hart volunteered her time to prepare the amicus brief in keeping with the school’s spirit of public service. As a public institution, many of the professors and faculty members volunteer their time in their areas of expertise. The University of Colorado Law School Public Service Pledge Program asks students to volunteer at least 50 hours of law-related public service work, not for credit or other compensation, during their college career. IN 2011, more than 90 percent of the student body took the pledge.

About University of Colorado Law School

Established in 1892, the University of Colorado Law School (www.colorado.edu/law) is a top 25 public law school located at the base of the inspiring Rocky Mountains. Colorado Law’s 500 students, selected from among the statistically best applicants in the nation, represent 100 undergraduate institutions and diverse backgrounds. The school has dual degree programs in business, environmental studies, telecommunications, and public affairs. With a low faculty-to-student ratio, its highly published faculty is dedicated to interacting with students inside and outside the classroom. The school’s 8 clinics and 4 centers focus on areas of strength, including natural resources and environmental, American Indian, juvenile and family, telecommunications policy, and sustainable energy law. Colorado Law’s graduates are leaders in their profession and committed to public interest work.

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