Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog offers three reasons the Obama Administration bypassed en banc 11th Circuit review in the health care challenge, teeing up the case for Supreme Court review potentially by June: the Obama Administration could control the litigation (in case of a change in presidents in 2012), the DOJ might have lost before the en banc court, and the move shows strength not foot-dragging.
I think there’s another reason, this one political. If the Court strikes down the law, Obama makes more of an issue of a Court out of control (think FDR) during the 2012 campaign (something I suggested in this Slate piece). If the Court upholds the law, this takes some of the wind out of the argument likely to come from the Republican presidential nominee that the health care law is unconstitutional. No lose before the election. Sometimes, you can win by losing before the Roberts Court.