The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected an effort by Virginia’s attorney general to bypass the Court of Appeals and have the Supreme Court immediately address the challenge to the mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance under the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148.

Virginia had filed a petition on February 8, 2011 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case before the Fourth Circuit rules.  See Petition for a Writ of Certiorari Before Judgment in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius (U.S. Supreme Court, Case No. 10-1014).  It is very rare, however, for the Supreme Court to address legal claims before they are addressed by the Circuit Courts.  Oral arguments already are scheduled in three Circuit Courts during the next month-and-a-half.

The Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments on May 10, 2011 in the appeal from Virginia District Court Judge Henry Hudson’s December 13, 2010 decision declaring the individual mandate under the health care statute to be unconstitutional.  See Oral Argument Notification, Commonwealth of Virginia, et al. v. Sebelius (Fourth Circuit, Case No. 11-1057).

The Eleventh Circuit will hear oral arguments on June 8, 2011 in the appeal from Florida District Judge Roger Vinson’s January 31, 2011 ruling that that the individual mandate under the health care statute is unconstitutional.  See Oral Argument Order, State of Florida, et al. v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al. (Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 11-11021).

And finally, as we reported earlier this month, the Sixth Circuit has scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. in the appeal from the October 7, 2010 decision by Judge George Steeh of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upholding the individual mandate under the health care statute.  See Thomas More Law Center, et al. v. Obama, et al. (Sixth Circuit, Case No. 10-2388).

As we have been saying for months, the Sixth Circuit remains in a position to become one of the first—if not the first—appellate courts in the country to rule on the constitutionality of the health care statute.