The Obamacare case to be heard by the Supreme Court in only 2 weeks

I posted previously about the Obamacare cases that were on a collision course to the Supreme Court.  The most eagerly anticipated question before the Court is the constitutionality of the individual mandate — that is, does the federal government have the power to require someone to purchase something?

Three of the 13 federal appellate courts have now ruled on Obamacare.  The 4th and the 6th Circuits upheld the individual mandate, whereas the 11th Circuit deemed it unconstitutional.  (The 6th Circuit is where I clerked.  It covers Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan).

It’s a fascinating issue with all sorts of wide-ranging legal and historical implications, and it’s now set to finally be heard by the Court on Monday, March 26th.

An article in The New York Times offers a glimpse into the importance of the case — and to the legacy in particular of Chief Justice Roberts — noting that “[t]he six hours the court will devote to arguments is a testament to the case’s importance.  The last time the court heard longer arguments in a politically charged case was in 1966, over the Voting Rights Act, a crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. And the last time the Supreme Court ruled that a major piece of economic legislation was beyond Congressional power to regulate commerce was in 1936, when the court struck down minimum-wage and maximum-hour requirements in the coal industry.”

The case will have important political implications as well.  Indeed, considering the length of time it generally takes for the court to issue their written decisions following argument, the case opinion will likely be handed down just in time for the final stretch run of the upcoming presidential race.

Stay tuned for a short summary and primer on the precise legal issues involved.

In the meantime the lawyer for the parties challenging Obamacare.  He is a former law school classmate of President Obama, and a former Justice Department official in charge of appearing before the Supreme Court to defend similar laws passed by Congress.

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