Supreme Court Denies Immediate Review of Virginia Health Care Ruling
Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court declined a request to immediately review a federal judge’s ruling that the individual mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or health reform legislation – is unconstitutional.
The case, Virginia v. Sebelius, arrived at the Supreme Court’s steps in an unusual way, so its refusal to review the case at this point is not surprising.
In the case, the Commonwealth of Virginia was successful in persuading the federal district court that the individual mandate provision of the health reform law is unconstitutional. Despite the favorable ruling, the Virginia Attorney General sought to immediately appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court, bypassing any review by the federal circuit court of appeals. The state AG’s decision to seek appeal from the highest court despite being initially successful was an attempt to definitively put the issue to rest.
The Obama administration, however, resisted immediate review and opposed the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request that the Supreme Court immediately review the case.
In an April 25, 2011 Order, the Supreme Court — without any written opinion or dissent — unanimously rejected the appeal. Its decision is not surprising and should not be interpreted how the Supreme Court views the substantive issues. Immediate appeal to the highest court is unusual and rarely accepted. The Supreme Court obviously wants to watch how this issue plays out in the various circuit courts of appeal before it weighs in as the final authority.