U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Health-Care Law; Case Arrives 'On a Winning Streak' for US


Updated: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to the Obama administration health-care law.

The court granted cert today in three cases and allowed extra oral argument time when the case is heard in March, SCOTUSblog reports. As a result of the schedule, the case will be decided only months before the presidential elections, USA Today reports. The court gave the parties a total of 5 1/2 hours to argue the cases, apparently setting a modern record, SCOTUSblog says.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the law has arrived at the court “riding a surprising winning streak and carrying a constitutional stamp of approval from prominent conservative judges.”

Only three out of 12 federal appeals judges who considered the law voted to overturn it. The rulings provide arguments for upholding the law that could appeal even to some conservatives on the court, the newspaper says.

The major issue: whether Congress can require individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Two leading conservative judges—Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—wrote opinions upholding the law.

Both relied on a 2005 Supreme Court opinion, Gonzales v. Raich, upholding the federal government’s authority to regulate pot. The court held in Raich that the federal government had commerce clause authority to ban medical marijuana, even when the drug doesn’t cross state lines.

Four federal appeals courts have considered the health-care law. Two upheld it, one struck it down, and one found the state of Virginia had no standing to challenge it.

The New York Times also has a story on the pending constitutional questions.

Updated at 9:10 a.m. to report on cert grant decision and at 11:30 a.m. to add information from SCOTUSblog.

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