Obama Administration Welcomes Supreme Court Opinion on ObamaCare – Predicts Victory

“Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” the Justice Department said.

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Twenty-six states and a small business group appealed Wednesday to the Supreme Court seeking to strike down all of President Obama’s signature health care law, while the administration defended it.

The states and National Federation of Independent Business argued the entire law should be invalidated because Congress exceeded its powers requiring that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty.

They urged the high court to quickly decide the issue in its upcoming term, which begins next week and lasts through June 2012.

The Obama administration filed its own appeal in which the Justice Department argued the so-called individual mandate was constitutional and said the issue was appropriate for Supreme Court review.

“Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” the Justice Department said.

“We believe the challenges to Affordable Care Act…will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law,” the department said in a statement.

White House adviser Stephanie Cutter said the administration asked the Supreme Court to hear the case “so that we can put these challenges to rest and continue moving forward implementing the law to lower the cost of health care and make it more secure for all Americans.”

At issue was a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Atlanta in August that declared unconstitutional the individual insurance requirement but refused to strike down the entire law.

The ruling by the appeals court in Atlanta conflicted with rulings by other appeals courts that have upheld the law or have rejected legal challenges, including a lawsuit by the state of Virginia that was dismissed earlier this month on procedural grounds.

The law, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010 after a bruising political battle, is expected to be a major issue in the 2012 elections as Obama seeks another four-year term. Republican presidential candidates oppose it.

The Supreme Court long has been expected to have the final word on the law’s constitutionality. The dispute has important legal, political and financial implications for companies in the health care field.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the states sought Supreme Court review of their lawsuit.

“This health care law is an affront on Americans’ individual liberty, and we will not allow the federal government to violate our constitutional rights,” she said.

Legal experts have said the nine member Supreme Court, with a conservative majority and four liberals, most likely will be closely divided on whether the individual mandate requiring insurance purchases exceeded the power of Congress.

The Obama administration earlier this week said it decided against asking the full U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit to review the August ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that found the insurance requirement unconstitutional.

That decision cleared the way for the administration to go to the Supreme Court.

The states in their appeal also argued the law’s expansion of Medicaid, a federal-state partnership that provides health care to low-income Americans, was unconstitutionally coercive, forced upon the states.

HOW OBAMA COULD WIN IF OBAMACARE LOSES

It may sound counterintuitive, but here’s betting that President Obama wouldn’t be at all upset if the high court rules that his health plan is unconstitutional.

By urging an expedited review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the president knows that the politics cuts his way. If the court strikes down the plan, then Obama won’t have to defend it in the fall campaign, robbing the Republicans of one of their two lines of attack, the other being the moribund economy. He could rally his base by arguing that he had pushed through a great “progressive” reform only to be foiled by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. People, like markets, hate uncertainty, and the presumed swing vote by Justice Kennedy could settle the issue.

If Obama wins the judicial appeal, it will still be a win for him along the lines of today’s conventional thinking. He will be able to argue that the Administration always knew Obamacare was constitutional, and the expedited review will muffle the issue in the general-election campaign.

The one nightmare scenario for Obama is if the Supremes hear arguments before the election and decide the case after the voting. In that event, the briefs and oral arguments could well inflame the political debate. By asking for a speedy review, the President is evidently hoping to avoid this awkward straddle.

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