A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to delay oral arguments in a high-profile lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to give the Republican state attorneys general more time to file requested supplemental briefs, but will still consider the case on July 9.
The Republican states said they need more time to file a supplemental brief on whether the U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic states that are defending the landmark healthcare law have standing to intervene in the case and if not, what that means for the appeal. The Republican attorneys general asked to extend the July 3 deadline to file the brief by 20 days and reschedule oral arguments for after that date.
"These important and potentially dispositive questions merit a thorough response that represents the cohesive views of all plaintiff-appellee states and their respective attorneys general. As of today, it appears unlikely that any such response will be completed by the court's July 3 deadline," wrote Kyle Hawkins, lead counsel for the Republican states.
In an order posted Tuesday, the court said it would allow all counsel to file their requested briefs on July 5 but wouldn't delay the oral arguments.
The Democratic states and the House urged the court to deny the request, arguing that moving ahead with the case would reduce uncertainty in the healthcare sector.
"Allowing this appeal to proceed on its current schedule will provide some measure of certainty about the ACA's future to states, the healthcare system (including providers and insurers), and ordinary Americans, and allow them to structure their affairs accordingly," attorneys for the Democratic states and the House wrote.
The 5th Circuit's request for supplemental briefs on the intervenors' standing was seen by some spectators as a sign that the court is supportive of the Republican states. But others said the request was normal, given the high stakes and the fact that the original defendant—the U.S. Justice Department—declined to defend the ACA on appeal after a lower court struck down the law as unconstitutional.