The Obama administration has decided against asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc hearing, after a three-judge panel of the court struck down the president’s health care individual mandate last month. Since other courts have ruled in favor of the administration, the case will now likely be appealed before the Supreme Court, reports Phil Klein:

And moments ago, the Obama administration’s Department of Justice confirmed to the Examiner that it would not ask for the appeals court to hear the case en banc, or with all judges on the court present. Such a move was unlikely to change the ultimate outcome, but some speculated that the Obama administration may want to delay the case as long as possible so that it isn’t decided by the highest court during the 2012 election. …

Now, the DOJ will appeal directly to the Supreme Court, and the court is virtually garunteed to take up the case. Most legal observers believe that the suit is likely to be decided by next June.

Once petitioned by the DOJ, the Supreme Court is expected take up the case quickly. For one, it rarely turns down a government appeal. Second, a speedy decision on the individual mandate is vital, since it will have a broad impact on policy and the public.

But the decision to bypass the en banc hearing is interesting. Not that the hearing would have been likely to make a difference, but at least the administration could have delayed the inevitable Supreme Court appeal. Maybe they reasoned that Obama would have more time to recover from a SCOTUS decision the June before his election, rather than risking a potential September or October surprise?

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