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Challengers to health care law request Supreme Court review

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With five appeals courts ruling on challenges to President Obama’s health care law and two more decisions on the way, the Supreme Court justices have lots of options when it comes to which cases they’ll take on.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses is trying to convince the court that the case brought by the group, along with 26 states and some individuals, is the best one to hear. The 11th Circuit handed the plaintiffs a partial victory last month, striking down the individual mandate but upholding the rest of the law.

The plaintiffs took the next step on Wednesday, filing a petition for certiorari that asks the Supreme Court to review the case during its 2011-12 term.

The 11th Circuit became the first court to rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, after the 6th Circuit upheld the mandate in June.

Three other appeals courts have dismissed challenges on the ground that they lack standing. The 4th Circuit Court in Richmond said that a lawsuit by Liberty University came too soon, ruling that the mandate can’t be challenged before it goes into effect in January 2014 under a law known as the Anti-Injunction Act.

NFIB attorney Randy Barnett said that’s why the Supreme Court should hear the 11th Circuit lawsuit, since it is the only court to actually overturn a federal law. He said the court needs to decide two key questions: whether the mandate is constitutional and whether the rest of the health care law can stand if the mandate is struck down.

“The only issue decided was the Anti-Injunction Act, so that doesn’t seem to us a great vehicle for addressing either the merits of the individual mandate or its severability from the rest of the statute,” Mr. Barnett said. “Those are the issues we think need to be decided right away.”

A group that represents 350,000 small businesses around the country, NFIB opposed the Affordable Care Act legislation.

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