Supreme Court appoints lawyers to argue healthcare positions neither party supports

The Supreme Court on Friday appointed two veteran D.C. lawyers to argue the merits of two issues that neither the Obama administration nor the health law's opponents support.

H. Bartow Farr, a partner at Farr & Taranto, has been chosen to argue that the entire law can stand if the individual mandate is struck down - the conclusion the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reached in April. The government argues that the law's requirements that insurers cover all sick people at no extra cost can't survive without the mandate, while opponents say none of the law can.

Also, Robert Long, a partner with Covington & Burling, was chosen to defend the position that the mandate cannot be challenged before it goes into effect in 2014 because it's a tax. Both parties disagree, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond - and a dissenting judge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals - ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act bars the courts from ruling on the mandate before people start paying the penalty.