Supreme Court Rejects Early Request To Review Health Overhaul
The Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a long-shot request for a review of the Obama administration's health-care overhaul before the matter has been fully litigated. The high court's rejection of the health-care challenge, brought by a conservative legal group in California, wasn't a surprise. The high court almost never hears cases before they have been fully litigated in the lower courts, and it hadn't asked the Obama administration to file legal papers responding to the appeal."
However, the decision "yielded one notable piece of information: Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas participated in the court's decision not to hear the case." Kagan's prior work at the Justice Department as Obama's solicitor general and the conservative activism of Thomas's wife have raised questions about whether the justices should disqualify them from participating in a "high-court case on the overhaul. ... Justices have sole discretion to decide whether to recuse themselves in a case. Federal law requires them to sit out a case if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned" (Kendall, 11/8).
The Washington Post: The justices decided "that Baldwin v. Sebelius was not ripe for the court's consideration." Previously, a federal judge in California had ruled that "at this point, neither an individual nor a business has been harmed by the law's future mandate of insurance purchases, so no one could yet challenge the law. Federal judges in other parts of the country have ruled differently, but no appeals court has yet ruled on the question." Kagan's apparent choice to participate in the decision on the recent challenge "could be an indication she sees no conflict in hearing cases involving health-care reform, despite her role in the Obama administration" (Barnes, 11/8).
The Financial Times: Monday's case "asked for rulings on two questions: whether the 'individual mandate' requiring all Americans to have health insurance by 2014 could be challenged now; and whether the requirement exceeded the constitutional power of Congress." A federal court in San Diego had previously "dismissed the challenge, brought by Steve Baldwin, a former Republican state legislator in California and advocate of smaller government. The judge said it was premature because no one could yet show they had been injured by the law." The Supreme Court's refusal to consider the challenge reaffirmed that decision (Fifield, 11/8).
CNN: "Other judges hearing separate challenges from Virginia and Florida have allowed lawsuits challenging the health coverage mandate to move ahead, while questioning the legality of some provisions. Florida is supported by 19 other states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington" (Mears, 11/8).