The U.S. Supreme Court hears argument starting March 26 on various aspects Obamacare, front and center the mandate.  A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Purity in opposing mandates is the reason to be of Rick Santorum’s campaign argument:  Mitt is tainted due to Romneycare, and Newt is tainted because he was willing to consider a mandate in the past.

Mitt invokes the 10th Amendment as his defense, Newt says Rick is overstating Newt’s past support for some type mandate.

Santorum’s anti-Romney in argument in particular hinges on whether the mandate is enforceable:

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who has led the state’s fight against President Obama’s health care law, warned Thursday that Republicans would be “effectively giving up the issue” if they tap Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee.

The claim echoes the message of Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney’s chief opponent for the party’s nod, who has said the health care law the former Massachusetts governor signed is too close to Democrats’ national law to leave Mr. Romney any room to criticize it.

“One thing that people voting as between Romney and Santorum is, they’re deciding whether to give up that issue,” Mr. Cuccinelli said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program.

So what happens if the Supreme Court rules one way or the other.  Since I consider the issue mostly neutral for Newt, here are some possibilities as between Rick and Mitt:

(1) Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of mandate.  Bad for Mitt, because then there is nothing keeping Romneycare from going national, if there is a desire to do so.  Good for Rick.

(2) Supreme Court strikes mandate (with or without striking entire law due to non-severability).  Good for Mitt, who can say, see I told you so, not need to worry about me.  Bad for Rick, because his main argument against a Romney candidacy — the ability to confront Obama  on the issue — evaporates.  That leaves an economic argument between the two, which is a toss up.

By mid-June we may have a nominee.  But if we don’t, a couple of weeks after that a Supreme Court ruling could change everything.

Sounds like the honey badger may know what he’s doing.