The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law and other issues pertaining to it for three days starting March 26.
Total arguments will be comprised of 5 ½ hours under a decision by the court on Nov. 14.
Analysts and lawyers do not expect a decision in the case until late June.
George Patton Jr., an appellate lawyer with Bose McKinney & Evans LLP in Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis, said the key to the case is the order in which they are hearing the oral arguments and the amount of time they allot to arguments on each issue.
He said the fact that the Court will review the anti-injunction issue first is the “only twist to the case.” He calls it an “important issue and a sleeper.”
Anti-injunction deals with whether the Court must first wait for the tax to be imposed on those who don’t want to buy individual insurance and will then sue to not pay it. This means that a decision on the constitutionality of the individual mandate may have to be delayed until 2015.
Patton said the fact they will hear the individual mandate issue next, and have granted two hours for oral arguments, indicates the importance of this issue.
Also, the fact that they are reserving arguments on the Medicaid issue for last, and reserving the least time to hear it indicates they regard this as the least important issue, Patton said.
The hearings will open March 26 with a one-hour debate on the threshold issues of whether a federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act makes challenges to the mandate premature until 2015.
The next day, according to a schedule released by the High Court Monday, the judges will hear two hours of argument on the central issue of the constitutionality of mandating that citizens buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
The provision is often called the individual mandate; the announcement called it the minimum coverage provision.
On March 28, the court will hear arguments on two other issues related to the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).