Friday, October 21, 2011

High Court could hear oral arguments on health reform law in March of 2012

Mark your calendars for March of 2012. Right around the time of the second anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which is on March 23rd, the High Court could be holding oral arguments on the constitutionality of the landmark health reform legislation and its controversial individual mandate.

According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration and several key challengers, including the 26 states that oppose the law and the small business association that wants the law to be invalidated, filed their legal briefs with the Court. That’s not news. What is news is that these legal briefs were filed more than a week before the October 28th deadline for their submission. Not surprisingly, in many instances, parties file their briefs at the last minute or even seek deadline extensions.

Just about everyone would agree that the health reform law is a large and complicated law. Holding oral arguments in March, instead of April, the AP says, would give the justices an extra month to write their opinions.

Of course, it’s not a done deal yet, even though the federal appellate courts have reached differing positions on the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate. As the AP points out, under “the court's normal scheduling practices, the justices probably won't even decide whether to hear the health care case until the middle of November, at the earliest.” In other words, there’s no guarantee that the justices will even consider the law during this term.

Stay tuned. Decision time is fast approaching.


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