Should the Supremes Rule on Healthcare?

| Mon Dec. 13, 2010 3:12 PM EST

A district judge in Virginia has ruled that the individual mandate clause in the healthcare reform bill is unconstitutional. Two other district judges have previously ruled the other way. In the normal course of things, these rulings will be appealed, several circuit courts will hand down their opinions, and the Supreme Court will eventually provide a final determination. But Rep. Eric Cantor wants to cut out the red tape:

To ensure an expedited process moving forward, I call on President Obama and Attorney General Holder to join Attorney General Cuccinelli in requesting that this case be sent directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In this challenging environment, we must not burden our states, employers, and families with the costs and uncertainty created by this unconstitutional law, and we must take all steps to resolve this issue immediately.

I'm not sure what the legal issues are here, but there have certainly been times in the past when I've wondered why we bother going through the whole rigamarole of lower court decisions in cases like this. I mean, everyone knows this is going to end up at the Supreme Court anyway, and everyone knows that the Supreme Court quite plainly couldn't care less what any of the lower courts say about it. All those lower court decisions are no better than waste paper.

But maybe I'm missing some important process issues that make it unwise to just hand this off to the Supremes right away. I'm not quite sure what, though. Regardless of whether you like the law or not, it really does require a ton of planning and implementation, and that would be helped considerably by knowing for sure whether changes will be required by the Supreme Court. Tentatively, then, put me in Cantor's camp.

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