The Obama administration has decided to put the full court press on a Supreme Court review of the Affordable Care Act. Via the New York Times:
The Justice Department said the justices should hear its appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, that struck down the centerpiece of the law by a 2-to-1 vote.
“The department has consistently and successfully defended this law in several courts of appeals, and only the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it unconstitutional,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “We believe the question is appropriate for review by the Supreme Court.
“Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation, such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” the statement continued. “We believe the challenges to the Affordable Care Act — like the one in the 11th Circuit — will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”
In addition, the administration has asked the court not to review the Sixth Circuit court ruling (known as the Thomas More case for the conservative think tank that filed it), but instead to rule on the government petition first.
Whatever the Solicitor General now says about the Thomas More case and its potential for review (a question likely to be answered in the forthcoming reply), the filing of a petition on behalf of the U.S. government — and its filing so soon after the Eleventh Circuit had ruled — was a clear indication that the government wants and expects a ruling during the Court’s current Term on the new health care law. In fact, in a conference call with news reporters Wednesday afternoon, a senior Justice Department official said: “It is important to get a decision with finality and certainty sooner rather than later.” The official added that government agencies, the health insurance industry, and people across the Nation need to know how to put their affairs in order under the provisions of the Act.
The administration is pointedly requesting that the Supreme Court rule on the individual mandate, since the 11th Circuit decision overturns it. The Sixth Circuit case ruled opposite; that is, that the mandate is constitutional. By pushing the 11th Circuit decision overturning the mandate, the government seems to be confident that they'll prevail, and in so doing, will affirm the 6th Circuit case.