The conventional wisdom has always been that, for the White House, a longer timeline on health reform’s legal challenges is better: it gives the law more time to be implemented and benefits to kick in. So why did it choose the faster route to the Supreme Court this time? There are at least three reasons that could make a 2012 Supreme Court decision a more compelling one for the White House:
The Obama administration will definitely handle the case. Delaying a ruling until 2013 came with a big risk: a Republican administration could be in power, and arguing the case. It’s pretty hard to see a President Rick Perry or Mitt Romney asking his attorney general to defend the health reform law given that both have pledged to overturn the legislation. “That hypothetical Republican administration could have decided to do what the Obama Justice Department did with the Defense of Marriage Act — offer no defense of the law at all,” my colleague Stephen Stromberg wrote in an excellent post making this point. A ruling in spring 2012 means the Obama administration will be the one defending its signature legislative achievement.