Photograph by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court announced on Monday that this year's oral argument for a legal challenge to Obamacare will be spread out over three days toward the end of March.
The SCOTUS Blog has the details: The 5 and a half hours of argument time will begin on Monday, March 26, when the high court's proceedings will focus on whether the challenges to the individual mandate are barred by the federal Anti-Injunction Act. The following day, the argument will center around whether the mandate is constitutional. And on the third day, March 28, the proceedings will deal with two separate issues: the question of whether the Affordable Care Act can survive if the court were to strike down the individual mandate, and whether the law's Medicaid expansion is constitutional.
The Associated Press says we can expect a ruling by early July.
Monday, Nov. 14: The Supreme Court announced Monday that it has agreed to review a high-profile legal challenge to the landmark health care reforms signed into law last year by President Obama.
The Associated Press reports that arguments are set for March of next year, allowing plenty of time for the justices to make a decision by late June, roughly four months ahead of the 2012 elections.
There are several legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act currently winding their way through the court system, but the one that the justices will focus on will be a lawsuit brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, which contend that the law's individual mandate requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.
The 11th Circuit struck down the mandate in a decision on the states' challenge earlier this year, ruling that lawmakers had overstepped their congressional authority by including the requirement. The Atlanta court, however, also ruled that the rest of the sweeping law could remain in effect.
While the individual mandate will get the most attention, Politico Pro points out that the justices will also review a number of other related issues:
[T]he court will also review the law’s Medicaid expansion, which the states claim is an unlawful coercion by the federal government since they must expand the program or drop out completely.
The justices also will decide whether the federal tax law, the Anti-Injunction Act, bars review of the mandate until at least 2014, and what provisions of the law should be struck if the mandate is found to be unconstitutional.
The justices had widely been expected to weigh in on Obamacare, especially since the administration and the law's chief opponents have asked the high court to rule on the law as quickly as possible. Still, the timing of the review will keep the heavily partisan issue at the forefront of the national conversation in the months leading up to the 2012 elections.