Obama Administration Does Not Petition Court on Reform Ruling
On Monday, the Obama administration did not ask the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to reconsider a multistate lawsuit opposing the federal health reform law, suggesting that administration officials will push for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter, Politico reports (Haberkorn, Politico, 9/26).
In August, A three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the individual mandate in the federal health reform law is unconstitutional, marking the first time an appellate court ruled against any part of the law (California Healthline, 8/15).
The Department of Justice had until Monday at 5 p.m. to ask the entire 11th Circuit Court to review the case. However, DOJ did not file paperwork for review, allowing the ruling to stand (Politico, 9/26).
DOJ spokesperson Tracy Schmaler announced the administration's decision but declined to discuss the Obama administration's strategy or next steps (Yost, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/26).
Implications of Decision
According to the Wall Street Journal, the administration's decision increases the likelihood that it will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the case during its term that begins in October. If it accepts the case, the high court likely would issue a ruling by June 2012 (Kendall, Wall Street Journal, 9/27).
The administration has until November to file the Supreme Court petition but could secure an extension (Politico, 9/26).
Analysts expect that the Supreme Court will accept the case. In June, appellate judges for the Sixth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that the federal health reform law's individual mandate is constitutional, and the high court more readily accepts cases where lower courts are split (American Health Line, 8/15).
If the high court rules on the case during the election year, the decision could prove a political windfall for either Democrats or Republicans, depending on the decision, according to Politico.
Reaction to Administration's Decision
Former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger said the administration's decision suggests that the federal government "is confident that it's going to prevail in the Supreme Court and would like to have a decision sooner rather than later."
Opponents of the law, who had expected the administration to appeal in order to delay a Supreme Court ruling, praised the decision.
Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown University who is working with the plaintiffs, said, "The president and solicitor general deserve full credit for refusing to employ delaying tactics in this pressing constitutional controversy" (Politico, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.