Today is the first Monday in October and thus the opening of the United States Supreme Court’s new term. One of the orders issued is a bit unusual.
In the case of Liberty University v. Geithner, the Court entered the following order.
The respondents [the federal government] are requested to file a response to the petition for rehearing within 30 days.
Liberty University was one of the many challenges filed against Obamacare. Procedurally, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit threw the case out on ther grounds that the “penalty” for failure to have government approved insurance was, in fact, a tax, and, because it was a tax, under the Anti-injunction Act, no suit could be filed to challenge it until the tax had to be paid. That would be sometime in 2015.
Liberty appealed to the Supreme Court but their petition that the Supreme Court hear their case was denied. In the interim, the Supreme Court heard the appeal from what we called “the Florida case” and ruled that Obamacare was a proper exercise of Congress’s power to tax, but went on to hold that the Anti-Injunction Act did not apply, and thus the Court could hear the case.
So, where does that leave us?
The Supreme Court has already, at least indirectly, overruled the Fourth Circuit’s opinion and found that the case can be heard on the merits. Assuming that the Court grants Liberty’s current petition, and thereafter holds that the Fourth Circuit should have heard Liberty’s case, the case would be sent back to the trial court in Virginia to hear the case. However, that trial court is bound by the Supreme Court’s June decision holding that Obamacare is constitutional.
Thus, assuming it would happen, directing that the trial court hear the Liberty case would appear to be a useless act.
The Supreme Court does not engage in useless acts.