The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to accept one of the appeals addressing President Obama’s health care statute, and thereby has set the stage for one of the most anticipated legal rulings in years.
In its order accepting the case, the Supreme Court identified four issues for the parties to brief and set aside five-and-a-half hours for oral argument. Five and a half hours! It’s an extraordinary amount of time, but why not? The issues presented are titanic and unprecedented and could have far-reaching consequences. Can the federal government require everyone to buy insurance? If not, should the entire statute fall? Should the Supreme Court even decide those issues on their merits, or should it wait for the law to be fully implemented?
Many people will focus on the political impact of any Supreme Court ruling on the health care statute, but I think the legal issues are of the most interest. In many ways, the statute tests the outer limits of Congress’ power under our Constitution — if in fact there are any limits left. The Supreme Court may well decide that issue come June.