Business Insurance reports that the decision leaves intact a ruling that a California man and an interest group filed their lawsuit prematurely. Steve Baldwin and the California-based Pacific Justice Institute asked the justices to hear the appeal directly from a federal trial court, bypassing the appeals court level, the news report said.
Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas both took part in the action. Their participation in considering the bill’s constitutionality has been the subject of some controversy.
According to Business Insurance, Kagan, who served as Obama’s top courtroom lawyer before he appointed her to the Supreme Court, was pressed by Republican senators considering her nomination this year to say whether she would disqualify herself from disputes over the health care law. She said she played no role in formulating the administration’s legal defense, though the litigation was briefly mentioned at least at one meeting she attended.
Thomas’s wife Virginia is a political activist whose name appeared on a memo declaring the measure “unconstitutional.” The group she founded, Liberty Central, last month said her name had been added to the memo by mistake, and the group also removed a position paper questioning the measure’s validity from its Web site.A ruling by a federal court judge in Michigan that the health reform bill is constitutional is headed for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (see Ruling Backing HCR Headed for Appellate Court), and state challenges in Florida and Virginia are still pending.