Constitutional challenges to the year-old healthcare reform law may be destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Obama administration and U.S. Dept. of Justice aren’t willing to speed the process up for anyone.
After the U.S. District Court for Northern Florida ruled this week that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) issued a resolution, calling for the high court to immediately issue a decision on the law. And yesterday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said his state would make a formal request for the high court to take a direct review of his constitutional challenge the the law.
The conflicting court decisions on the law’s constitutionality are creating uncertainty about implementation of the law and justify an expedited Supreme Court review, Cuccinelli reasoned.
However, DOJ officials want the case to proceed as usual, believing that the rare "certiorari before judgment" being sought by Cuccinelli won’t help reach a conclusion for all litigation related to the health reform law.
"There is more than sufficient time for the case to proceed first in the court of appeals," DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in prepared remarks.
Virginia’s challenge to the law is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit where it has already granted an expedited review of the issue. However, eight of the court’s 14 active judges were Democratic appointees, according to Bloomberg. A ninth judge, Roger Gregory, was first nominated by President Bill Clinton, but was picked again by President George W. Bush.
A normal review period would work in favor of the Obama administration, as it allows for the case to proceed through the courts, perhaps providing enough time for his administration to continue to build support for the law.