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Healthcare law petitions head to the Supreme Court

The Obama administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case requesting an appeal of a decision made about the healthcare law by an Atlanta appeals court. The request came on Wednesday, two days after the Justice Department chose not to seek a full review from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

“Unfortunately the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Affordable Care Act’s individual responsibility provision,” reads a White House blog posted Wednesday afternoon by Stephanie Cutter, a deputy senior adviser. “We strongly disagree with their decision and today, the Obama Administration will ask the Supreme Court to hear this case, so that we can put these challenges to rest and continue moving forward implementing the law to lower the cost of healthcare and make it more secure for all Americans.”

In August, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta found the ACA’s individual mandate to be unconstitutional and said that it could be severed from the rest of the law. The Justice Department had until Monday to seek a full-panel review from the court but chose not to do so.

[See also: Health reform's individual mandate is unconstitutional says Atlanta appeals court.]

The New York Times reported that the administration’s petition to the Supreme Court on the ACA case was unexpected at this time because the administration had until November to make its request.

The administration was not the only entity Wednesday petitioning the Supreme Court to hear an ACA case. Twenty-six states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are asking the Supreme Court to strike down the ACA.

“The 11th Circuit ruling confirmed NFIB’s view that the individual mandate in the healthcare law is unconstitutional. It is now imperative that the Supreme Court rule on whether the entire law can stand without the mandate,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center in a statement. “The sooner the Court takes up this case, the sooner small businesses and individuals will know whether they will have to bear the full weight, financially and economically, of this bad law.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said the court would be prudent to expedite the cases so that the country may have a determination before the presidential election next year. “It would be better to have that known about than be speculated as a part of the political argument,” he said.

Follow HFN associate editor Stephanie Bouchard on Twitter @SBouchardHFN.

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