Supreme Court Takes on Political Legal Cases for 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court's new session features controversial cases that are bound to make the high court the center of discussion during the 2012 race for the White House.

The high court's docket for the upcoming nine-month session includes a Texas affirmative action case, Arizona's immigration bill and President Barack Obama's health care reform.

"This term could turn out to be one of the most momentous Supreme Court terms in decades," Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Washington-based Constitutional Accountability Center, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Undoubtedly, the most political case on the docket involves Affordable Care Act. The high court will decide whether or not to uphold the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling after 26 states successfully argued that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Obama campaigned on health care reform in 2008 and signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010 despite Republican wrangling. The Department of Justice stated in September that it has "consistently and successfully defended this law in several courts of appeals" and can do so again in the Supreme Court. If the health care reform bill is ruled constitutional, it will be a very tangible victory for Obama's re-election campaign.

Conservative lawyer and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver countered that the Justice Department has been backed into the corner with the 11th Circuit Court's ruling. He believes the health care reform bill may be on its last leg.

"We've challenged the individual and employer mandate," he said. "If one of those is struck down, like the individual mandate, the entire law, I think by virtue of that, has to go."

If the Supreme Court strikes down any or all of the law, it will give Republicans the ammunition to challenge Obama.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's countersuit against the federal government for failing to enforce immigration laws will definitely ignite campaign debates.

The Obama administration has tried to strengthen its appearance on immigration by announcing in August it would reorganize cases in order to target illegal immigrants who prove to be a threat to national security. The executive decision has won the approval of the Hispanic community.

The GOP considers the bill to be "amnesty" for illegal immigrants who don't rock the boat.

Republicans fiercely criticize the Obama administration for blocking states from taking steps to alleviate the strain of a growing immigrant population.

"We in Arizona are very concerned about the violence that's taking place because of the drug cartels, and the human smuggling and the criminal behavior that's taken place," Brewer said.

The case would force the Obama administration to publicly discuss its efforts to block immigration law enforcement, said Paul Clement, the attorney representing Arizona in the case.

"The burden's on the federal government to explain why it is that immigration is sufficiently different from every other area of the law that a state can't effectively try to enforce the federal substantive law," he said.

Fisher v. University of Texas challenges minority admissions preferences at the University of Texas – Austin. The issue of affirmative action became an important topic leading into the 2004 presidential election.

The high court will also hear arguments questioning whether or not police need a warrant before they can place a tracking device on a car to monitor a criminal suspect's movements and whether federal regulators are violating the U.S. Constitution by imposing fines for on-air profanities and nudity.

It rejected a lawsuit that could possibly ignite a gun rights debate and lawsuits waged by AT&T and Bank of America.