Monday, September 26, 2011

Health Reform Lawsuit Appears Headed for Supreme Court

The Obama administration chose not to ask the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear a pivotal health reform case Monday, signaling that it’s going to ask the Supreme Court to decide whether President Barack Obama’s health reform law is constitutional.

The move puts the Supreme Court in the difficult position of having to decide whether to take the highly politically charged case in the middle of the presidential election.

The Justice Department is expected to ask the court to overturn an August decision by a panel of three judges in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that found the law’s requirement to buy insurance is unconstitutional. The suit was brought by 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, and several individuals.

Since the ruling, the Justice Department had until Monday to ask the entire 11th Circuit to review the case. Administration lawyers didn’t file the paperwork by the 5 p.m. deadline, so the ruling would stand unless the Justice Department asks the Supreme Court to step in.

The petition isn’t due until November, and the administration could get an extension.

Opponents of the law had expected the government to ask for the so-called en banc hearing to delay a ruling by the Supreme Court.

“The president and solicitor general deserve full credit for refusing to employ delaying tactics in this pressing constitutional controversy,” said Randy E. Barnett, a Georgetown Law professor who is working with the plaintiffs.

But former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, who has worked on briefs in support of the legislation, said the move should be read as a sign of confidence from the administration.



2010 Official photo of the Supreme Court of the United States


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