RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced that, following a thorough legal review of the case, he will commute the death sentence of Ivan Teleguz to life imprisonment without parole. Teleguz’s request for a pardon will be denied. Teleguz was convicted in the murder-for-hire of Stephanie Yvonne Sipe in July 2001. He was scheduled to be executed on April 25.
Announcing his decision at the Virginia State Capitol today, Governor McAuliffe delivered the following statement (as prepared):
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. I am joined today by my Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, and my Counsel, Carlos Hopkins, both of whom have devoted countles
Richmond (August 2, 2010) – (SEE VIDEO BELOW) A federal judge ruled today that Virginia does indeed have standing to bring its lawsuit seeking to invalidate the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The judge also ruled that Virginia had stated a legally sufficient claim in its complaint. In doing so, federal district court judge Henry E. Hudson denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss the commonwealth’s suit.
“We are pleased that Judge Hudson agreed that Virginia has the standing to move forward with our suit and that our complaint alleged a valid claim,” said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli and his legal team had their first opportunity in court on July 1, arguing that Virginia’s lawsuit was a valid challenge of the federal health care act and that the court should not dismiss the case as the federal government had requested.
The U.S. Department of Justice argued that Virginia lacked the standing to bring a suit, that the suit is premature, and that the federal government had the power under the U.S. Constitution to mandate that citizens must be covered by government-approved health insurance or pay a monetary penalty.
In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Hudson found that Virginia had alleged a legally recognized injury to its sovereignty, given the government’s assertion that the federal law invalidates a Virginia law, the Health Care Freedom Act. In addressing the issue of Virginia’s statute, the Court recognized that the “mere existence of the lawfully-enacted [Virginia] statute is sufficient to trigger the duty of the Attorney General of Virginia to defend the law and the associated sovereign power to enact it.” He also found that even though the federal insurance mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014, the case is “ripe” because a conflict of the laws is certain to occur.
“This lawsuit is not about health care, it’s about our freedom and about standing up and calling on the federal government to follow the ultimate law of the land – the Constitution,” Cuccinelli said. “The government cannot draft an unwilling citizen into commerce just so it can regulate him under the Commerce Clause.”
The Court recognized that the federal health care law and its associated penalty were literally unprecedented. Specifically, the Court wrote that “[n]o reported case from any federal appellate court has extended the Commerce Clause or Tax Clause to include the regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, notwithstanding its effect on interstate commerce.”
A summary judgment hearing is scheduled for October 18, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. to decide if the federal health care law is unconstitutional.