DOJ Petitions Supreme Court To Review Health Care Challenge

It was inevitable that it would come to this; it was just a matter of which side would make the request first. Yesterday, the Dept. of Justice filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the nine robed ones to review the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Three Circuit Courts of Appeal have ruled on challenges to the Act, with courts in Virginia and Ohio upholding the constitutionality of a portion of the law that requires all people to purchase some sort of health insurance, ruling that the mandate fell under the umbrella of the Commerce Clause because one’s decision to not purchase health insurance qualifies as an act that has a direct impact on interstate commerce, by shifting the cost of the uninsured person’s medical care on to others.

However, the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit disagreed with this line of thinking and ruled that the mandatory coverage section of the law is unconstitutional.

In a statement on its decision to petition the Supremes, the DOJ writes:

The Department has consistently and successfully defended this law in several court of appeals, and only the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it unconstitutional. We believe the question is appropriate for review by the Supreme Court.

“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. 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.

This isn’t actually the first time the Supreme Court has gotten involved in the health care reform legislation. Earlier this year, it shot down a petition from the Attorney General of Virginia, who had asked the court to allow the Commonwealth’s case to skip the lower courts and be heard by the Supreme Court.

Justice Department Asks the Supreme Court to Review the Affordable Care Act [Justice Dept. Blog]