Affordable Care Act Lawsuits On Track For Supreme Court Review In 2012

Given the schedule they're on in the Courts of Appeals, it is likely that the Supreme Court will rule on one or more of the lawsuits challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act just before the start of the 2012 campaign.

The ACA Litigation Blog reports that there are now four ObamaCare cases scheduled to be argued at the Court of Appeals level this summer:

May 10: Virginia v. Sebelius and Liberty University v. Geithner at the Fourth Circuit (Richmond).

June 1: Thomas More Law Center v. Obama at the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati).

June 8: Florida v. HHS at the Eleventh Circuit (Atlanta).

Yet to be scheduled: Seven-Sky v. Holder (CADC), Baldwin v. Sebelius (CA9), and N.J. Physicians v. President (CA3).

What this means is that all of these cases could theoretically reach the Supreme Court by the fall:

The reason is that, with now four cases to be heard by the courts of appeals on an expedited basis in May and June, the decisions from the circuits are likely to come down by the end of the summer. The losing side then has 90 days to file a petition for a writ of certiorari, and the winner 30 days to respond, at which point the petition will be calendared at the Supreme Court. (The loser can accelerate the schedule by filing the cert petition sooner.)

It now seems quite likely that at least one of these cases, and perhaps several, will generate petitions for certiorari soon enough for the Court to resolve them before mid-January 2012. (That is typically the cut-off between Terms; petitions granted after mid-January are typically argued the following autumn.) Thus, the timeline is such that the Court is likely to grant one of the cert petitions in late fall of this year, hear argument in the spring of 2012, and issue a decision by the end of June 2012.

There are several caveats, of course. The Courts of Appeals could take time issuing their decisions, meaning that the time to appeal to the Supreme Court would be pushed back and the case may not get argued until the October 2012 term. Given that all three courts have placed these cases on an expedited calender, though, that seems unlikely. With regard to Virginia v. Sebelius specifically, the Supreme Court could decide to accept Virginia’s application for direct appeal to the Supreme Court, although that seems unlikely. Finally, of course, the Court could decide not to accept any of these cases for appeal but that also seems unlikely given the fact that they impact such a substantial federal law.

More likely than not, then, the Supreme Court seems on track to issue a decision on whether or not President Obama’s signature legislative achievement is Constitutional right before the start of the 2012 election campaign. That should make things very interesting.


FILED UNDER: Healthcare Policy, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. hey norm says:

    interesting indeed.
    from where i sit it’s pretty much a done deal that scalia will placate his masters – the koch brothers – and contradict all his past rulings that apply in order to rule that the ACA is unconstitutional. of course it’s possible that scalia suprises us, so i call dibs on the ice skate franchise in hell. (when hell freezes over – get it?)
    so…given that…does the dem. base rally against the supremes and support obama, or is it demoralized and stays home? and what of independents?
    interesting indeed.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    I would think that the Democratic base would believe it’s important to keep Obama in office in the hopes that a vacancy could arise amongst the Supreme Court’s rightwing bloc.

  3. TG Chicago says:

    There’s an entire wiki page about this. It’s far from a settled issue.

  4. TG Chicago says:

    (oopsie, last post is in the wrong thread – feel free to delete that and this)