Supreme Court to Rule on ACA in Middle of Election Season

Via the invaluable SCOTUSBlog, the Supreme Court announced today that it will be hearing challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this term. The oral arguments will consolidate three of the anti-ACA lawsuits, and in addition to addressing basic questions of constitutionality, the Court will be considering the jurisdictional questions that could allow the Court not to issue a ruling on the merits next year. Given that in a high-profile case with important constitutional questions and a circuit split, the Supreme Court intervening is nearly inevitable.

The upshot is that a decision on the ACA will be handed down right in the middle of a presidential election. Reflecting the importance of the case and the number of issues involved, oral argument will be 350 minutes rather than the usual 30 or 60. The Court will spend a full 90 minutes on the question of whether the individual mandate can be "severed" from the rest of the bill—that is, whether a ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional would require the whole act to be struck down. I will have further thoughts about how the Court is likely to rule soon, but this will be the most important Supreme Court case in a long time.

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