Obama Admin Tells Supreme Court to Wait to Hear Obamacare Lawsuit

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2011   |   10:55AM   |   Washington, DC

In legal papers filed with the Supreme Court late Monday night, Obama administration officials told the Supreme Court it doesn’t want it to take up yet the lawsuit one state filed against the controversial health care law.

A Virginia federal judge ruled the individual mandate portion of the Obamacare law invalid in a lawsuit the state filed against the measure and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in February, asked the Supreme Court to take an expedited review of the case.

On Monday, the Obama administration asked the high court to stay away from the case until after a federal appeals court has a chance to review the federal judge’s decision and issue its own opinion on whether the law, which presents abortion funding and rationing concerns for pro-life groups, is unconstitutional.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal wrote, “there is no basis for short-circuiting the normal course of appellate review” and he said Cuccinelli’s case is flawed because he supposedly lacks standing to bring the lawsuit. Katyal said the Obama administration doesn’t dispute that the case is of great public importance but says it doesn’t meet the Supreme Court’s threshold as “one of the rare cases that justifies deviation from normal appellate practice and require[s] immediate determination in this court,” according to a Fox News report.

Katyal also says several other lawsuits filed against Obamacare in other states, including the main case in Florida that has been joined by dozens of other states and where a federal judge ruled the entire Obamacare law unconstitutional, are still pending and still should get hearings and decisions from appeals courts.

The Supreme Court denied, without a written decision, a previous request in a lower profile case from California to expedite the case all the way to the Supreme Court and the expectation is that the high court will not take the case right away since one party opposes doing so. That would send the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had a conservative reputation and would likely uphold the lower court’s decision if not for the four new appointments Obama has made to the 15-member court during his time in office.

In issuing his call for the expedited case, Cuccinelli said, “Given the uncertainty caused by the divergent rulings of the various district courts on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we feel that it is necessary to seek resolution of this issue as quickly as possible. Currently, state governments and private businesses are being forced to expend enormous amounts of resources to prepare to implement a law that, in the end, may be declared unconstitutional.  Regardless of whether you believe the law is constitutional or not, we should all agree that a prompt resolution of this issue is in everyone’s best interest.”

The Petition for Certiorari Before Judgment in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Sebelius was filed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of the United States Supreme Court. Rule 11 provides that an immediate review in the U.S. Supreme Court is permissible “upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in” the Supreme Court.

“Rule 11 is the exception to the general rule, but this case and the other cases challenging the constitutionality of PPACA are truly exceptional in their own right,” Cuccinelli, who is pro-life, said. “There are a number of suits pending throughout the country challenging the constitutionality of PPACA.  Presently, 28 states have filed suits challenging the authority of Congress to enact this law.  That, in and of itself, is exceptional and makes the cases excellent candidates for immediate review in the Supreme Court.”

Recently, the U.S. Senate rejected a move by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to have the Senate approve a bill the House approved to repeal Obamacare. Senators voted along party lines with all Democrats — including three who say they are pro-life — voting against repealing the abortion-funding bill while all Republicans supported repeal.

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.