As you know, the American Center for Law & Justice (“ACLJ”) represents individuals in a challenge to ObamaCare. The case, known as Seven-Sky v. Holder, Case No. 11-679, is pending at the United States Supreme Court on a petition for writ of certiorari.
We raised two issues in the petition:
(1) whether the individual mandate, the part of ObamaCare that requires millions of Americans, for the first time in our nation’s history, to purchase a product (health insurance) from a private company for the rest of their lives or pay annual penalties, is constitutional; and
(2) whether the individual mandate violates the religious-practice rights of those who believe in relying on God for their well-being since it forces them to either join a health insurance system that is contrary to their faith or pay annual penalties for adhering to their faith.
In the petition, we requested that the Court either grant the petition now or hold it until the Court resolves the case brought by Florida and twenty-five other States that it will be considering in the coming weeks.
Last Friday, February 17, 2012, the Court considered the Seven-Sky petition, among the many other petitions pending with the Court. Today, February 21, 2012, the Court issued its order from that conference. The Seven-Sky case is not listed in the order, which likely means the Court is holding our petition, as we requested, pending the resolution of the multi-State action.
What happens next in the Seven-Sky case, therefore, depends on the decision in the multi-State ObamaCare challenge, which we expect by this June. If the Court rules the individual mandate unconstitutional, the Court should then grant our petition, vacate the D.C. Circuit’s decision in our case, and send the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. In essence, we would have won.
If the Court rules the individual mandate constitutional, the Court could still grant our petition to address the unique religious rights question that our case raises. In that situation, our case would continue. We would be able to advance the claim that the individual mandate violates the religious rights of our clients.
On a related matter, in the same order, the Court expanded the amount of time it will devote to oral argument in the multi-State ObamaCare challenge. The Court has agreed to allow an additional thirty minutes of argument for a total of six hours of oral argument spread over three days: March 26 (one and one-half hours on the Anti-Injunction Act issue), March 27 (two hours on the individual mandate issue), and March 28 (one and one-half hours on the severability issue and one hour on the Medicaid issue).
The amount of oral argument time the Court has devoted to this case is significant. The Court generally permits only a total of one hour per case, with each side receiving thirty minutes.
We will keep you informed as these important cases proceed at the Supreme Court.