Media should be cautious about reading anything into the Supreme Court's decision to hear a constitutional challenge into the Affordable Care Act. The Court's decision does not in any way provide evidence that a majority of the Court suspects the law might be unconstitutional. Indeed, the Obama administration itself asked the Court to hear the case.
In a phone conversation with Media Matters, Doug Kendall, founder and president of the Constitutional Accountability Center and an experienced Supreme Court litigator, points to three factors in this case that nearly guaranteed that the Supreme Court would review the case:
- at least one federal circuit court of appeals has struck down the law in question (in this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has struck down a provision of the law);
- there is a split in the circuit courts (in this case, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit have upheld the same provision); and
- the administration has asked the Supreme Court to review the case (as occurred in this case).
Kendall said that when all three factors are present, it is "effectively the Supreme Court's duty to hear the case." Put another way, Kendall said it would be "irresponsible for the court not to hear the case."