Wednesday, April 27, 2011


It wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was—after quite a drought—slightly good news for advocates of health care reform as defined by the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the State of Virginia’s request to put the State’s challenge to the ACA (one of several similar cases) on a fast track. The Court’s order provided no explanation, and there were no dissenting votes.

Virginia’s attorney-general had argued that an exception was justified to the usual process of a case moving from federal district court to federal appeals court on its way to an eventual hearing by the Supreme Court, because of the importance of the ACA case and the virtual certainty that it would eventually be heard by the Court. The government agreed with the importance, but proposed the usual more orderly approach, especially since the case is already moving towards appellate review.

Possibly more interesting and important than the Court’s actual decision was the absence of any indication that any of the justices had disqualified themselves from the case. Since the newest justice, Elena Kagan, was previously Solicitor General in the Obama administration, there had been some speculation that she might recuse herself, thereby potentially leaving the Court more heavily weighted towards its conservative wing. Meanwhile, the best guess is that the Virginia ACA case will be heard by the Court some time in 2012, but with a decision not being handed down until later in the year, possibly in time for the presidential election.

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