Supreme Court to Fill Week With Health Care Arguments

When the federal health care reform law of 2010 began winding its way through various lower courts, it was not clear whether the ultimate destination would be the Supreme Court. The justices, after all, weigh many factors in determining their caseload.

But some conflicting rulings along the way made it less of a surprise when the "Supremes" recently indicated they would indeed consider various issues surrounding the far-reaching law. Now, even more information has come out about the unprecedented level of attention coming in early 2012. The Washington Post reports:

The high court scheduled arguments for March 26th, 27th and 28th over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which aims to provide health insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans. The arguments fill the entire court calendar that week with nothing but debate over President Obama’s signature domestic health care achievement.

With the March dates set, that means a final decision on the massive health care overhaul will likely come before Independence Day in the middle of Obama’s re-election campaign. The new law has been vigorously opposed by all of Obama’s prospective GOP opponents.

The justices will start the week of arguments that Monday with one hour on whether court action is premature because no one yet has paid a fine for not participating in the overhaul. Tuesday’s arguments will take two hours, with lawyers debating the central issue of whether Congress overstepped its authority by requiring Americans to purchase health care insurance or pay a fine. Finally, Wednesday’s arguments will be split into two parts, with justices hearing 90 minutes of debate over whether the rest of the law can take effect even if the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional and an extra hour of arguments over whether the law goes too far in coercing states to participate in the health care overhaul by threatening a cutoff of federal money.