Monday, April 4, 2011

Enter the Chamber of Commerce

Those who follow the Supreme Court know that one of the most influential players in Supreme Court litigation today--perhaps second in significance only to the Office of the Solicitor General--is the National Chamber Litigation Center, the appellate litigation arm of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Much has been written about the effectiveness of the NCLC, its extremely competent director (Robin Conrad), and its influence on the Roberts Court. (This figure does not prove anything in itself, but it is provocative nonetheless: the Roberts Court has agreed with the NCLC in roughly 70 percent of the cases in which the NCLC has participated, as a party or as an amicus.)

So it is big news that, for the first time in any of this litigation, the NCLC has filed a brief today in Virginia v. Sebelius. The brief does not take a position on whether the minimum essential coverage provision is constitutional. But it argues, in strong terms, that the individual mandate cannot be severed from the other aspects of insurance reform in the ACA--specifically, the guaranteed issue and community rating provisions of Section 1201.

Were the Chamber to actually take sides on the question on the merits, that would be even bigger news. But this is an important development nonetheless.

You can access the NCLC's brief here.