A very good question from Brad F., a TIE reader:
If a district court in FL has a state participating in a suit, say WI, but a decision rendered by another district court in WI says something else, how do you reconcile? The Supreme court, law of the land thing is easy to get, but how do district and circuit courts override each other.
If you see what I am getting at (health law), how does a decision in one state (FL) to null and void ACA effect a verdict within your own state (say Michigan) if a related health issue has its own unique and interpretable judgment?
I’ll take a stab; perhaps others can help (I’m not a procedure expert).
This FL lawsuit binds the parties, which include 26 state plaintiffs, but no one else. Someone with standing could bring suits in other district courts back in those states. The fact that the Michigan AG joined this suit doesn’t overturn the Thomas More Law Center case in Michigan, where Federal District Court Judge Steeh ruled the ACA constitutional in October. Insurance companies in Michigan still have to cover children under 26 on their parents’ plans and obey the all of the ACA rules that are now in force.
More interesting, the ruling only determines standing for 2 states: Utah and Idaho (at pp. 17-18). The other states aren’t discussed. Notice that the “commandeering” claims were tossed out, which was the primary basis for state standing anyway. Now that the case has been narrowed to the individual mandate, I’m not sure why most of these states are still in this case at all. Expect a flurry of procedural appeals based on standing.
Short answer: The FL case gives the plaintiff states (and individual & associational plaintiffs) legal authority to ignore ACA (assuming they have standing), but doesn’t block further litigation across the country by other groups opposed to ACA or perhaps supporters. Nor is it safe for insurance companies to ignore the ACA provisions that are already in force.
Update: Wisconsin and Florida are ready to stop implementing the ACA (h/t to Greg Sargent & Joan McCarter at Daily Kos). As I said before, I don’t think these states have standing in this suit anymore and in any event the insurance companies outside the Northern District of Florida will still comply with ACA rules already in force, as they weren’t parties to the suit.