Monday, June 6, 2011

Ninth Circuit schedules oral argument in Baldwin v. Sebelius

The briefing was complete four months ago, but the Ninth Circuit has finally scheduled oral argument in Baldwin v. Sebelius, the case originating in the Southern District of California. The argument will be in Pasadena, California, on Wednesday, July 13.

You will recall that, in that district court decision, Judge Dana Sabraw held that the plaintiffs failed to "allege any particularized injury stemming from" the ACA, and thus lacked standing. Specifically, she reasoned that Baldwin had not indicated "whether he has health insurance or not," and that, regardless, "even if he does not have insurance at this time, he may well satisfy the minimum coverage provision of the Act by 2014: he may take a job that offers health insurance, or qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, or he may choose to purchase health insurance before the effective date of the Act."

Because the district court dismissed the case for want of standing, and thus never reached the merits, it seems unlikely that the Ninth Circuit would reach the question whether the minimum coverage requirement is constitutional. Were the court to disagree with Judge Sabraw and find that the plaintiffs had standing, the typical course would be to remand the case for further proceedings below. Nonetheless, the parties have briefed the merits, and there is nothing jurisdictionally that (if the court found standing) that would preclude the Ninth Circuit from reaching the question.

You can access the district court's opinion under review here.

And you can access the Ninth Circuit's oral argument scheduling order here.

(The identity of the Ninth Circuit panel will be revealed a week before the argument.)