Whew! Earlier I wondered in a tweet whether there was anyone else in my small town eagerly awaiting a 10 a.m. SCOTUS announcement. There was no response, so, yeah. Anyway, here we go!
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The development set the stage for oral arguments by March and a decision in late June, in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign.
This is, of course, the big one everyone’s been waiting for. SCOTUS agreed to hear, out of all the various challenges, the 11th Court of Appeals decision that struck down the individual mandate but nothing else in the law. By choosing this over other lawsuits SCOTUS will be able to discern whether or not the rest of the law must be struck down if they find the individual mandate unconstitutional. Over at WonkBlog Sarah Kliff has a straightforward FAQ on the whole matter. My favorite point:
What could the Court rule? The Court could rule that the health reform law is constitutional and allow it to move forward.
It could also rule, as the 11th Circuit did, that the individual mandate falls while the rest of the law stands.
The justices do, however, have another option: The Court could decide that the individual mandate is so key to health reform law that, if it falls, the whole law comes down with it.
There’s also the possibility that the Supreme Court could decide that the case isn’t ripe to be heard yet, since the individual mandate has not been implemented. This would be similar to the ruling that came out of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and would essentially tell the law’s opponents they can’t come back with a challenge until 2014, when the penalties for not purchasing insurance kick in.
Needless to say, oral arguments in the spring followed by a decision at the end of June next year will make for a busy news cycle.