Obamacare back in Washington: Lawsuit advances to Supreme Court

Amanda Carey Contributor
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A small-business group filed a petition with the Supreme Court, Wednesday morning, to expedite  review of the pending 26-state lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is requesting that the Supreme Court strike down the entire law as unconstitutional — not just the individual mandate.

The NFIB is the only private party on the lawsuit brought by 26 other states to challenge Obamacare. And according to Greg Katsas, co-counsel for the NFIB, the Court is on track to hear oral arguments in early 2012, with a decision expected around June 2012.

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center’s executive director, Karen Harned, championed the recent developments. She called Obamacare an “anchor around the necks” of small business owners in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

The federation is also arguing that the 11th Circuit case is the best vehicle to advance the case. In August, the 11th Circuit Court of Atlanta ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional, but it upheld the rest of the law because the mandate was “severable.”

In its suit, however, the NFIB contends that the individual mandate is the core of the reform law and thus cannot be isolated or severed.

Speaking on the severability issue, Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett told reporters the the legal issue is centered on whether Congress would have passed Obamacare without the individual mandate. He argued that the answer is “no”.

“The administration has said the individual mandate is not severeable,” said Barnett. “It lies at the heart of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]. We are asking the Supreme Court to so rule.”

“The 11th Circuit ruling confirmed NFIB’s view that the individual mandate in the health-care law is unconstitutional,” Harned added in a statement. “It is now imperative that the Supreme Court rule on whether the entire law can stand without the mandate.”

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