Twenty-six states and a small business group appealed Wednesday to the Supreme Court seeking to strike down all of President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 healthcare law.
The states and the National Federation of Independent Business said in separate appeals the entire law should be invalidated because Congress exceeded its powers requiring that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty.
They urged the high court to quickly decide the issue in its upcoming term, which begins next week and lasts through June 2012. The Obama administration also is expected to ask the Supreme Court to decide the healthcare law.
The National Federation of Independent Business, a group representing 350,000 U.S. small businesses, had joined the states group led by Florida, in challenging the law in court.
A U.S. appeals court in Atlanta in August declared unconstitutional the individual insurance requirement, but refused to strike down the entire law.
The ruling by the appeals court in Atlanta conflicted with rulings by other appeals courts that have upheld the law or have rejected legal challenges, including a lawsuit by the state of Virginia that was dismissed earlier this month on procedural grounds.
The law, passed by Congress and signed by Obama in 2010 after a bruising political battle, is expected to be a major issue in the 2012 elections as Obama seeks another four-year term. The major Republican presidential candidates oppose it.
Obama, a Democrat, has championed the law as a major accomplishment of his presidency and as a way to try to slow soaring healthcare costs while expanding health insurance coverage to the more than 30 million Americans without it.
The Supreme Court long has been expected to have the final word on the law’s constitutionality. The dispute has important legal, political and financial implications for companies in the healthcare field.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the states filed their appeal and that it was time for a Supreme Court ruling.
“Individual citizens who have to plan for their families’ futures, businesses that might be considering adding new jobs, and state governments across the country that are looking at enormous new burdens need to know what the rules are,” he said.
Legal experts have said the nine-member Supreme Court, with a conservative majority and four liberals, most likely will be closely divided on whether the individual mandate requiring insurance purchases exceeded the power of Congress.
The Obama administration earlier this week said it decided against asking the full U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit to review the August ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that found the insurance requirement unconstitutional. That decision cleared the way for the administration to go to the Supreme Court. The administration has said it believes the law will be upheld in court while opponents say it represents an unconstitutional encroachment of federal power.
(Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago, Editing by Will Dunham and Jackie Frank)
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