The Supreme Court has agreed to judge whether President Obama’s health-care reform bill–specifically the individual mandate that compels citizens to buy health insurance-–is Constitutional.
This set ups most dramatic Constitutional confrontation in recent memory and it will land right in the middle of campaign season.
To be clear: President Obama’s signature legislative effort, which took up nearly a year of his presidency is on the line. The reform is already unpopular by a margin of 2-1. It will be a larger albatross if it is un-Constitutional to boot. (Update 12:02 pm : CNN released a poll today that shows a slim majority for the individual mandate, which is at odds with previous polling.)
The Supreme Court Justices will review the various lower-court rulings, hear five and a half hours of oral argument in March 2012, and issue their own ruling by late June. The amount of time dedicated to oral arguments is a modern record.
According to SCOTUSblog- the breakdown of oral arguments will be as follows:
The Court will hold two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the requirement that virtually every American obtain health insurance by 2014, 90 minutes on whether some or all of the overall law must fail if the mandate is struck down, one hour on whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars some or all of the challenges to the insurance mandate, and one hour on the constitutionality of the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.
The court will take all the state-level challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into consideration, including a particularly well-argued case against the mandate from Florida, that strikes down the entire health-care reform law.
Whatever the outcome, this guarantees that Obama-care and the composition of the Supreme Court itself will be a major campaign issue.
For legal document readers, the Supreme Court papers are here.
The White House, through Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued this statement:
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to consider legal challenges to the health reform law and we are pleased the Court has agreed to hear this case. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses. We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.
The White House has made it clear that it would like a ruling in 2012 before. This reflects confidence the individual mandate will be held up, or confidence in their ability to run against the Court’s decision if it is struck down.
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