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Why a fast Supreme Court ruling on health-care law might benefit Obama

The Obama administration says it did not consider politics when it asked for a ruling from the US Supreme Court on its health-care law. To be sure, both parties will hope to spin a positive story from the result.

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Mike Griffith, of Canton, Ga., holds a sign during a protest against President Obama's health-care reform plan outside the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in June. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments on whether to reverse a Florida judge's ruling that struck down the law.

John Bazemore/AP/File

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The Obama administration says it did not consider politics when it asked for a ruling from the US Supreme Court on the constitutionality of health-care reform.

But the reality is that Wednesday’s unexpectedly quick request for the high court to review an appeals court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could propel the issue front and center at the height of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Supreme Court is now expected to hear the case (and possibly other, similar cases) after the new year, and likely hand down a decision in June.

The ruling at issue came from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in August, which struck down the mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance but did not invalidate the entire law.

The Obama administration could have asked the entire 11th Circuit to take up the issue. But analysts see the 11th Circuit as a conservative court, and thus may well have upheld the three-judge panel’s decision.

In a statement Wednesday, the Justice Department sought to include the health-care law in the lofty company of high-profile cases that have survived Supreme Court scrutiny.

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