Justice Dept. Asks Supreme Court to Rule on Legality of Health Care Law

Looks like the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the legality of health care reform sooner rather than later.

The Obama administration asked the high court on Wednesday to hear a case concerning the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The New York Times says this “makes it all but certain that the court will soon agree to hear one or more cases involving challenges to the law, with arguments by the spring and a decision by June, in time to land in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Justice Department is appealing “a decision last month by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta that held that the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that all Americans purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. Earlier this week, the department declined to seek review of the full appeals court of that decision, signaling that it was ready for the case to be heard by the justices … the accelerated timetable suggests that it’s eager for a final determination on the legality of the controversial law.”

Ruling will end ongoing uncertainty

No matter how you feel about health care reform, asking the Supreme Court to rule on its legality is ultimately a good thing for American business because it means that an end to the ongoing uncertainty over the legality of health care reform, one way or another, is ultimately at hand.

If the high court does decide to take the case — and the the likelihood is that they will — they would probably rule sometime during their next session that begins Oct. 3 and ends in June 2012.

One key thing to take note of, according The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog:

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The key takeaway from this brief is that the White House wants the Supreme Court to hear the case for its merits and weigh in on whether the individual mandate is constitutional. It does not want the Court to dismiss the case on procedural grounds or get into issues of whether parties have a right to be bringing this case in the first place.”

That a clear statement to people challenging health care reform, saying: let’s get on with it and settle this thing now, once and for all.

The Obama administration doesn’t want to win or lose this thing on procedural grounds — they want the Supreme Court to review the merits of the health care reform act and decide if requiring Americans to buy health care insurance is constitutional, or not.

Here’s more on this from The Washington Post:

The Justice Department asked the justices to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which is the only appeals court to say Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. The law requires almost every American to have health insurance.

“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 Justice Department said in a statement. “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 suit is brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Those two groups have also asked the justices to accept the case, because while the appeals court panel struck down the individual mandate for health insurance, it upheld other parts of the law.

Appeals courts that have considered the law are split. In June, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the health-care law in a separate case.”

 For more of this story, click here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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