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Supreme Court Obamacare Case Could Overshadow Election

It’s only Monday, but this isn’t shaping up to be a good week for President Obama. Peter writes that his approval ratings have dipped to 39 percent, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will take up the case on the constitutionality of Obamacare before the 2012 election.

On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, making it a virtual certainty that the case will end up before the Supreme Court at some point in the near future.

The Obama administration can now request that the entire 11th Circuit hear the case in what’s known as an “en banc” hearing. But the grounds for such a request are shaky, since the three-judge panel was bipartisan (it included two Democrats, both Clinton appointees). It’s also rare that an en banc hearing results in a different ruling – but at least it could potentially delay a high-profile Supreme Court battle during an election year.

Once the administration appeals the ruling, the Supreme Court will have strong incentives to take up the case quickly, Politico reports:

The court has two very strong reasons to take the case now. First, there are two circuit courts that have ruled in opposite directions on the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate. And second, because the Obama administration lost in the latest ruling, it is going to be the one filing the appeal. The Supreme Court rarely turns does such requests from the federal government, especially on an issue with the scope of the health reform law.

The Supreme Court may also need to move fast on this because many of the Obamacare provisions are supposed to go into effect soon. Obama already has a weak record of accomplishments, and an ongoing Supreme Court battle would make his one significant “achievement” even more of a liability on the campaign trail.



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