On Wednesday the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court had struck down the individual mandate portion of the law in a 2-1 vote.
In a statement concerning the appeal the Justice Department said “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 Affordable Care Act — like the one in the 11th Circuit — will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”
The decision came quickly once the administration decided it would not seek further review from the entire 11th Circuit. The petition to the Supreme Court was not due until November.
There is almost every indication that the court will hear the petition. There are conflicting federal appellate court rulings on the constitutionality of the legislation and all sides, including the federal government, agree that review is warranted.
What that means in terms of the scope of the court’s review is another matter. Among the issues before it to consider are whether or not several of the plaintiffs have standing to pursue the matter and whether or not the matter is ripe for review, not to mention the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
It also means that should the petition be heard, the issue will be heard and decided in the midst of the presidential race, bringing to focus the sharp political divides within every branch of government.
Photo from steakpinball via flickr.