(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday refused to take up an appeal over health care reform before a federal appeals court can rule on the case.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had appealed to the high court in February by invoking Rule 11, a seldom-successful clause that permits immediate review of federal rulings.
Two months earlier, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, an appointee of President George W. Bush, became first to rule that a provision of health care reform that requires most Americans to buy health insurance was unconstitutional.
Cuccinelli tried to circumvent the 4th Circuit’s intervention in the case after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed Hudson’s decision there a month later.
The Supreme Court rejected the maneuver without comment, though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg foreshadowed the court’s decision in a February speech at George Washington University.
As reported by the GW Hatchet, a campus newspaper, Ginsburg noted that there are few exceptions in which the court has culled appeals before the cases could navigate proper judicial avenues. But the treatment afforded to cases like the Pentagon Papers is rare, she said, because the court benefits from its consideration of lower court opinions.
“The court itself is a reactive institution,” Ginsburg said, according to the Hatchet. “We don’t decide, ‘We better get this or that case sooner rather than later.'”
President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law last year, and angered citizens brought their cases to courts across the country almost immediately. On Jan. 31, weeks after Hudson had ruled against the government in the Virginia case, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida also found that the law’s so-called individual mandate provision was unconstitutional. Vinson went a step further than Hudson, however, by striking down the entire law and issuing an injunction that would have stopped the government from implementing measures to fund the law before it goes into effect in 2012. The judge stayed his own ruling, however, a little over a month later.
Three other federal judges have upheld the law as constitutional, and more than a dozen other cases have been dismissed for lack of standing. While Cuccinelli’s maneuver did not pan out Monday, the Supreme Court is expected to have the ultimate say on the act’s constitutionality after a federal appeals court weighs in.