Well, this was a big week for the PPACA lawsuits, with multiple filings in the Supreme Court. These quick moves seem designed to get the case heard this term, which means a decision would come out by June 2012 and be fodder for the November 2012 presidential elections. It remains to be seen whether that decision upholds PPACA, strikes the individual insurance mandate, or determines the constitutional issues can’t be litigated until 2014 or later.
In the 11th Circuit case, Florida v. DHHS, the government filed (much earlier than expected) a petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The government wants the Court to overrule what is currently the only appeals court ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Interestingly, the government also invited the Supreme Court to decide the question of whether the constitutional dispute can be heard at all before the law goes into effect in 2014. This issue is based on arguments adopted in the Liberty University v. Geithner (pdf) case recently decided by the 4th Circuit but not at the Supreme Court yet. More on this issue later.
Two other petitions for Supreme Court review of Florida v. DHHS also hit the Supreme Court yesterday, one by the plaintiff states and one by the plaintiff trade organization. In these, the plaintiffs argued that the 11th Circuit was correct that the individual mandate exceeded Congress’ power but that the entire law should have been struck down as a result, which was the trial court;s ruling. The 11th Circuit had severed the mandate from the rest of PPACA and allowed the remainder of the law to go into effect.
In a separate filing in the Thomas More v. Obama case, the government submitted its response to the plaintiff’s request to have that case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The government urged the Court not to take the Thomas More case (where the court of appeals ruled in the government’s favor), but instead to decide the constitutional issues, if at all, through the Florida v. DHHS case.
For more on these filings, check out the aca litigation blog, SSD’s Sixth Circuit blog, and Lyle Denniston’s postson the SCOTUS blog. News coverage is everywhere, including Adam Liptak’s article in the New York Times and Brent Kendall’s article in the Wall Street Journal.