The D.C. Circuit's decision Monday to nix a panel hearing in favor of en banc oral arguments in a closely watched challenge to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan means the government and rule opponents will have to wait longer to cross swords, but the move may actually get the case to the U.S. Supreme Court more quickly.

Neither party had asked the D.C. Circuit to take the unusual step of skipping a three-judge panel hearing, and the full court's reasoning for doing so is likely to remain opaque as the judges gave no rationale in their brief order.

One of the takeaways is that there is no clear advantage for either side.

Brendan Collins, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, agreed that it's difficult to predict whether one side has an advantage based on the judges. But he said that if Judges Garland and Pillard stay on the sidelines during the Sept. 27 oral arguments, the administration's margin for error is narrowed.

"At this point, you have perhaps four more reliable 'no' votes than you have five reliable 'yes' votes, but that's really on conjecture," he said.

Another is that it could lead to a quicker Supreme Court review. The last is that the high court vacancy isn’t likely to be an issue.

The loss of Justice Scalia, who voted to stay the rule in February, obviously could play a huge part in the ultimate outcome of the case if the high court decides to hear it. But the remaining eight justices can still make a decision to take the case before a replacement is named.

"Conceivably, there could be a ninth justice by the time the case is argued even if cert is granted in January," Collins said.