Health Care Law Cases Arrive at Supreme Court

The challenges to the Affordable Care Act that have been making their way through the lower courts are beginning to arrive at the Supreme Court.

Today, arguing that “time is of the essence,” lawyers for 26 states challenging the law  asked the Supreme Court to step in and rule on its constitutionality.

“States need to know whether they must adapt their policies to deal with the brave new world ushered in by the ACA,” argues Paul Clement, an attorney representing the states.

In court briefs, Clement calls the case “an ideal vehicle to resolve pressing and persistent constitutional questions” and he urges the court to act “expeditiously.”

The appeal comes after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled largely in favor of the states. The appeals court struck down a key provision of the law, the mandate that requires individuals to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. But the appeals court rejected the states’ argument that the Medicaid provision of the law is too expansive. In his brief, Clement also argues that the lower court should have struck down the entire law when it held that the mandate was unconstitutional.

The National Federation of Business, which has joined the 26 states in the case, sent a similar petition to the Court. In a statement, Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center said, “The sooner the court takes up this case, the sooner small businesses and individuals will know whether they will have to bear the full weight, financially and economically, of this bad law.”

Separately, the Obama administration is expected to file today its reply brief in a case it won in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The filing might offer a glimpse of how the administration plans to handle the various challenges making their way to the high court.