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SCOTUS Sets Date For Obamacare Showdown

From Politico:

The Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments. | NIKO DUFFY/POLITICO

By JENNIFER HABERKORN

The health care showdown of 2012 has been scheduled.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear three days of oral arguments on various pieces of the health reform law on March 26, 27 and 28 — just days after the law’s two-year anniversary.

On Monday, March 26, the justices will hear one hour of debate on whether the Anti-Injunction Act prevents the court from ruling on the constitutionality of the law.

On Tuesday, March 27, the justices will hear two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the mandate, the centerpiece issue of the case.

On Wednesday, March 28, 90 minutes of argument will be held on which pieces of the law should fall if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, and an hour of argument will be held on whether the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.

In November, the court indicated it would spread the arguments on the health law’s four issues over just two days. The suit was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The Medicaid Ambush

From Slate:

The Supreme Court’s unexpected and astounding reasons for wanting to hear a challenge to Obamacare.

By and

Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which means a five-and-a-half-hour oral argument before the court this spring, with a ruling likely by the end of June. It’s hardly surprising that the court agreed to hear this case: There was a deep split of opinion between several federal appellate courts, 26 states say they hate this law, and the Obama administration wanted the court to hear it quickly. The surprise is which issues the court has asked each side to address, and for how long. By this measure, the court’s announcement is precisely 64 percent expected, 18 percent unexpected, and 18 percent astounding.

The health care law, signed by President Obama in March 2010, extended insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, in part by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty. That “individual mandate” provision was the one that launched a thousand Tea Parties, and it’s the issue to which most constitutional scrutiny has been devoted: Can the government, under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, regulate “inactivity” (i.e., the decision not to purchase health insurance), and by what principle can we limit such unspeakable powers (i.e., how far can it go in forcing citizens to eat broccoli)?

The court will hear arguments on that issue for two hours. It will also entertain 90 minutes of argument on the mandate’s “severability”—that is, whether the entire law collapses if the individual mandate provision is deemed unconstitutional. (The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, even as it struck down the mandate, believed that the law itself would stand.)

So that’s three-and-a-half hours of debate. What are they going to argue about for the remaining two hours? That’s where it gets interesting. Continue reading

ACA Opponents Wine & Dine Justices Scalia, Thomas

From The Los Angeles Times:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks to a policy forum in Washington last month. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

By James Oliphant

November 14, 2011

The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

The occasion was last Thursday, when all nine justices met for a conference to pore over the petitions for review. One of the cases at issue was a suit brought by 26 states challenging the sweeping healthcare overhaul passed by Congress last year, a law that has been a rallying cry for conservative activists nationwide.

The justices agreed to hear the suit; indeed, a landmark 5 1/2-hour argument is expected in March, and the outcome is likely to further roil the 2012 presidential race, which will be in full swing by the time the court’s decision is released.

The lawyer who will stand before the court and argue that the law should be thrown out is likely to be Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.

Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles. Another firm that sponsored the dinner, Jones Day, represents one of the trade associations that challenged the law, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Another sponsor was pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, which has an enormous financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The dinner was held at a Washington hotel hours after the court’s conference over the case. In attendance was, among others, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican and an avowed opponent of the healthcare law.

The featured guests at the dinner? Scalia and Thomas. Continue reading

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