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Monday, November 14, 2011

Supreme Court: Pre-election health care showdown - Yahoo! News

Supreme Court: Pre-election health care showdown - Yahoo! News:

Supreme Court: Pre-election health care showdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is ready to consider next year the legality of President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislation, an overhaul of the U.S. health care system.

The law, passed by Congress last year on a largely party-line vote, was the most far-reaching domestic legislation in a generation but has proved a political lightning rod. It is vigorously opposed by all of Obama's prospective Republican opponents in next year's presidential election.

The Supreme Court's schedule set aside more than five hours of argument for the law, unprecedented in modern times. The justices' decision could come before the July 4 Independence Day holiday and is certain to be a focus of campaigning in the run-up to the Nov. 6 elections.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to providehealth insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans. Republicans have branded the law unconstitutional since before Obama signed it in a ceremony in March 2010.

The court's ruling could be its most significant and political decision since its decision that had the effect of making George W. Bush president in a harrowingly close 2000 presidential election. The justices left themselves an opening to defer the outcome if they should choose, by requesting arguments on one lower court's ruling that a decision must wait until 2015, when one of the law's many provisions takes effect.

Legal experts have offered a range of opinions about what the high court might do. Many prominent Supreme Court lawyers believe the law will be upheld by a lopsided vote, with Republican and Democratic appointees ruling in its favor. Others predict a close outcome, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee who sometimes joins his four colleagues appointed by Democratic presidents, holding the deciding vote on the nine-member court.

The White House has pushed for the quickest possible decision, and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the administration was pleased the justices agreed to take the case now, with arguments in March. "It's important that we put to rest once and for all the issue of maybe the law will disappear," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Republicans also said they were happy the high court would hear arguments on the constitutionality of the provision at the heart of the law and three other questions about the act. The central provision in question is the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty.

"That the Supreme Court is taking this up, I think, is a positive signal that there are legitimate concerns surrounding the constitutional aspects of mandating that individuals purchase health care insurance and purchase it according to Washington's guidelines," said the majority leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia.

The exceptional 5½ hours allotted for argument demonstrates the significance the justices see in this case. Normally, they allow only one hour, split between two sides. In the modern era, the last time the court increased that time anywhere near this much was in 2003 for consideration of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. That case consumed four hours of argument.

This argument may even spread over two days, as the justices rarely hear more than two or three hours a day.

The health care overhaul would achieve its huge expansion of coverage by requiring individuals to buy health insurance starting in 2014, by expanding Medicaid, the government's largest previous health care program and by applying other provisions, many yet to take effect.

Two justices, conservative Clarence Thomas and liberal Elena Kagan, who had been asked by advocacy groups to withdraw from the case, are going to take part in it. The court's practice is for justices who are staying out of a case to say so when it is accepted, and no one has announced a recusal. Thomas's wife, Virginia, has worked for a group that has advocated against the health care overhaul, and Kagan served as solicitor general in the Obama administration when the law was being formulated.

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Dear Fred,
The U.S. Supreme Court has just agreed to review and decide the constitutionality of ObamaCare – the pro-abortion health care law enacted against the clear will of the American people.
Supreme Court Takes Up ObamaCare
The Supreme Court will now decide once and for all whether this law, which is an unprecedented expansion of government power and uses our tax dollars for the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.
The ACLJ is representing more than 100 Members of Congress filing a critical amicus brief to the Supreme Court, challenging this unconstitutional law. This is the decisive moment; we need you to act now.
Your voice is critically important in this fight. This truly is a decisive moment in history where every American is going to look back and ask: where did you stand? Did you act on your convictions?
Once you have signed on to this brief, please forward this message to anyone you know who wants to see this dangerous law and expansion of abortion defeated; and please use the Facebook "Like" buttons in this email to share this important opportunity to make our voices heard in the highest court of the land.
For more than a year and a half the ACLJ has battled ObamaCare in the courts. President Obama has ignored the will of the American people and threatened the liberty of every American citizen by mandating that we buy a particular good or service. The President has chosen to force government-run healthcare upon the American people and now our Constitution is in critical condition.
Not only has the Supreme Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of the individual mandate – the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurances – but as we urged the Court in our amicus brief asking the Court to take the case, it will also consider the issue of severability.
In other words, the Court will decide if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, whether the entire law must be struck down. I have already begun working with our team of senior attorneys to urge the Justices to do just that – declare all of ObamaCare unconstitutional.
With a decision expected by the high Court in just a matter of months, it is now more important than ever to take a stand against ObamaCare. Join our amicus brief today and voice your opposition to the failed law.
This is one of the most decisive moments in the fight for life and liberty that we have seen in decades. Thank you for taking a stand today.
Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel
P.S. We have been waiting for this opportunity for over a year an a half – the opportunity to defeat ObamaCare once and for all at the Supreme Court. It is critical that we hear from everyone committed to defending life and liberty. Please share this opportunity to sign on to our amicus brief with your friends and neighbors by forwarding this message and using the "Like" buttons to share it on Facebook.

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