The Supreme Court has just announced that it will take the Obamacare litigation, meaning that a decision will be rendered on the individual mandate, if not the entire law, by the end of June.
As reported in USA Today:
The Supeme court said today it will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Obama health care plan by March of next year, Reuters reports.
The timing means the court will deliver its decision in the summer, only a few months before the 2012 presidential election, USA TODAY’s Joan Biskupic reports.
FLORIDA, ET AL. V. DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL. – “The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to Question 1 presented by the petition.”
Question 1 was “Whether Congress had the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the minimum coverage provision.”
DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL. V. FLORIDA, ET AL. The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. In addition to Question 1 presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: “Whether the suit brought by respondents to challenge the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, 26 U.S.C. §7421(a).”
NAT. FED’N INDEP. BUSINESS V. SEBELIUS, SEC. OF H&HS, ET AL., FLORIDA, ET AL. V. DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL. – The petition for a writ of certiorari in No. 11-393 is granted. The petition for a writ of certiorari in No. 11-400 is granted limited to the issue of severability presented by Question 3 of the petition.
When you add it all up, the Court will address the mandate, whether the lawsuit is barred because the mandate is a tax which has not yet come into effect, and whether the mandate is severable. In other words, just about all of the important legal issues appear to be on the table.
The decision will come in the middle of the campaign season, after a Republican nominee is all but selected. I stand by my view that the decision to take the case puts Obama in a no win situation politically:
From a purely political viewpoint, it is more important that the Supreme Court hear and decide the case prior to the 2012 election than it is which way the Court rules.
While of course throwing the mandate out is my strong (overwhelming) preference, politically for Republicans I don’t think it makes a huge difference which way the Court decides the case, as long as it decides the case prior to the 2012 election.
If the Supreme Court finds the mandate to be unconstitutional, it will deflate Obama’s presidency. In one fell swoop, the entirety of Obama’s agenda will come crashing down. It will be a political and personal humiliation.
If the Supreme Court upholds the mandate, Obama will be able to crow a little, but such a decision will leave the majority of people who hate the law with but one alternative: Throw Obama and Senate Democrats out in November 2012.
Update: SCOTUSBlog notes that the Justices have allotted a record amount of time for oral argument:
The allotment of 5 1/2 hours for oral argument appeared to be a modern record; the most recent lengthy hearing came in a major constitutional dispute over campaign finance law in 2003, but that was only for 4 hours.
And, it does not look like Elena Kagan recused herself from consideration of the cert petitions, so expect her to be part of the decision, notwithstanding very strong evidence that she had some level of prior involvement when Solicitor General.