Published November 14, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to President Obama's signature law on health care, it said Monday in an announcement that has nearly as much impact on partisan politics as the final decision has on the law itself.
The challenge in the case, brought by 26 states out of Florida, is based on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Accountability and Affordable Care Act, which requires that all Americans purchase health insurance.
The nine-member court will also look at severability, meaning if the mandate falls, could the rest of the law survive since it is primarily built on the revenues collected by forcing people to buy health care.
"We look forward to presenting oral argument and defending our position that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, that the entire law fails if one part fails, that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply, and that Medicaid's expansion is unlawfully coercive," said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The case is one that all sides want heard. But hearing the case this session -- arguments could come in March -- means that a ruling will come in June -- in the heat of the 2012 election cycle.
Some argue that a defeat for Obama would be as beneficial as a victory since it would take away an economic and philosophical argument that Republicans have used to bash the law that will impact roughly 18 percent of the nation's annual gross domestic product. Others say nothing good could come for Obama if his premier legislative victory is declared unconstitutional.
If the mandate is wiped off the map but the law itself isn't, the president would be able to promote aspects that most Americans say they accept, including leaving 26 year olds on their parents insurance and not allowing insurers to reject clients with pre-existing conditions.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 1 million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.
The 11th Circuit Court, where the case comes from, has ruled in favor of the opponents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, said the high court brings the challenge one step closer to elimination.
"Given the substantial implementation costs associated with this 2,700-page law--and the unconstitutional mandate that it will impose on all Americans -- we are pleased that the Supreme Court has moved quickly and agreed to hear this very important case," he said.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican presidential candidate who has made repeal and replacement of the law the first plank of his economic plan, tweeted that he is "pleased" the court has agreed to hear the case.