The United States Supreme Court announced Monday that it would hear a challenge to the controversial health care law pushed through Congress by the Obama administration in March 2010. The ruling would most likely come in 2012 and could play a pivotal role in the presidential election.
The National Association of Independent Business and two individuals and 25 states filed the case that will be heard by the court. The challenge involves the constitutionality of certain provisions and the part requiring individuals to purchase healthcare insurance by 2014, or face a financial penalty.
Paul Clement, an attorney for the 26 states contesting the law, had urged the Supreme Court to step in and resolve the “grace constitutional questions surrounding the Affordable Care Act.”
“Time is of the essence,” Clement told ABC News. “States need to know whether they must adapt their policies to deal with the brave new world ushered in by the ACA.”
The outcome of the ruling would have huge implications not only for small business, but also for President Obama and his administration. As a signal of the cases significance, the justices have said they will hear 5 ½ hours of oral arguments on the constitutionally of the law and its related issues.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said the law is extremely unpopular with voters. “Senate Republicans have argued that his misguided law represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of the federal government into the daily lives of every American,” he told The Washington Post.
Both sides have argued that the constitutional aspects of the law. Some of the issues the justices will be considering are whether Congress was acting within its constitutional powers by requiring all Americans to have some form of health insurance and whether the law can move forward is the individual mandate portion is ruled unconstitutional.
Many legal scholars believe the outcome may be the most important ruling the court has handed down since George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential election. However, the justices left themselves an “out” to defer the outcome until 2015 by requesting arguments on one lower court’s ruling, when one of the law’s many provisions takes effect.
The Obama administration has encouraged the court to hear the case. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer was relieved to learn the court had accepted the case.
“It’s important that we put to rest once and for all the issue of maybe the law will disappear,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told The Associated Press.
Republicans in the House of Representatives were also happy to hear the court had accepted the case. “That the Supreme Court is taking this up, I think, is a positive signal that there are legitimate concerns surrounding the constitutional aspects of mandating that individuals purchase health care insurance and purchase it according to Washington’s guidelines,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a statement.
If the court were to hear the arguments in mid-Spring, then a ruling would probably be handed down in late June, just before the court recesses for the summer.