Advocacy group, lawmakers urge Supreme Court to hear health care challenge

[JURIST] The American Center for Legal Justice (ACLJ) [advocacy website] and 105 members of Congress filed an amicus brief [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] Thursday urging the court to take up a Florida case challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [HR 3590 text; JURIST backgrounder]. Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] and a group of 26 states filed petitions with the Supreme Court [JURIST report] seeking a ruling on the constitutionality of PPACA. The petitions for certiorari filed by the DOJ and states [cert. petitions, PDF] seek review of a decision handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] in August. The Eleventh Circuit found the PPACA individual health care mandate unconstitutional [JURIST report] but upheld the remainder of the law without the mandate. The ACLJ's brief argues that the Eleventh Circuit erred in finding the individual mandate severable from the remainder of the law. They argue that because the individual mandate is the essential component of the PPACA it cannot be severed from the rest of the act. The entire act, they maintain, should therefore be struck down as unconstitutional. The ACLJ states that the split between the circuits over the constitutionality of the law has created a "matter of national importance," making a grant of review appropriate at this time.

There are currently several health care appeals pending before the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the US Chamber of Commerce [official website] filed an amicus brief [text, PDF] asking the Supreme Court to agree to resolve the deepening legal conflict [JURIST report] over the constitutionality of PPACA. In addition to the appeal of the Eleventh Circuit's decision, earlier this month both the state of Virginia and Liberty University appealed a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which dismissed their challenges for lack of standing [JURIST reports]. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the law in June, and that ruling was also appealed [JURIST reports] to the Supreme Court by the Thomas More Law Center [advocacy website]. The Supreme Court is likely to rule on the issue next summer.

 

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