In the beginning, some viewed the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act as "frivolous" or even called them "baseless tea party meanderings." But the number of states suing over this law rose to 28, and things got a little more serious.
There have been more than 30 cases filed, and they've been met with mixed reviews: some dismissals, some wins, and some losses. But the most prominent cases have continued to march through the judicial hierarchy, from districts, to circuits, and now the march turns toward the Supreme Court.
(The most prominent cases are just the faster moving ones like the Thomas More Law Center case, the Liberty University case, the Virginia case, and the Florida case, who all filed on March 23, 2010 and thereby positioned themselves for a faster track.)
This week there's been a lot of action. In the multistate case that started in Florida (now called HHS v. Florida), a deadline passed Monday for the most recent losers (that's the federal government) to file for a full-bench or "en banc" review of their case in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
After it was clear that this wasn't going to happen, plaintiffs – first the National Federation of Independent Business, and then the 26 state plaintiffs – filed cert petitions with the SCOTUS. The Department of Justice soon filed their petition, signaling that they are done playing games and are ready to get this taken care of once and for all with a final review from the Supreme Court.
The Solicitor General also filed a response to a cert petition from the Thomas More Law Center. TMLC was the first plaintiff-appellant to hear back from an appeals court, although their ruling was unfavorable. So, they were the first to file for cert. In the government's response, the SG asks that the Supreme Court hold the TMLC petition pending resolution of the DOJ petition in the Florida case.
Sorry TMLC, everyone wants to see the states and the federal government hash it out.
So now the stage is set for Florida, the 25 other states, the NFIB, and the two individuals who've joined together for this case. Supreme Court review is likely in early 2012, with a ruling coming down in late June. Hold on folks – it's going to be a wild ride!
To read more, or to access PDF versions of these cert petitions, visit HealthCareLawsuits.org, a project of IWF.