But standing was not a problem in a second case, where lawyers for Liberty University sued on behalf of several individuals. Both lawsuits said that a requirement in the new law that everyone purchase health care was a violation of the Constitution.
Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, representing the administration, said the requirement to buy health insurance was "necessary and proper" under the clause in the Constitution allowing Congress to regulate interstate commerce because virtually all Americans use health care at some time in their lives.
Earlier this year, a federal judge in Richmond struck down the health-care mandate as unconstitutional in the case brought by Virginia.
By their comments Tuesday, members of the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit sounded as if they would reverse that decision and say that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had no standing to challenge the law.
Liberty University lost its lawsuit in federal District Court and appealed to the Fourth Circuit. Mathew Staver, its lawyer, said Congress could regulate commerce but not "idleness." In this instance, he referred to the refusal of his clients to purchase health insurance.
The judges did not sound persuaded. They noted that the Supreme Court had said Congress had broad power to regulate a national market and that the mandate was an attempt to regulate insurance. It is a "practical power," Davis said, to regulate effectively.
Two other U.S. appeals courts will hear challenges to the health-care law.
The most important figures to be the one before the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in June. The legal challenge there speaks for governors or state attorneys from 26 states, including Pennsylvania. Besides contesting the mandate affecting individuals, they argue for states' rights and assert it is unconstitutional to force them to provide more health care for low-income Americans.
In mid-May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati will hear another challenge to the law.