By Gene Barrett
The US Supreme Court will decide on November 10 whether or not to consider the case of President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law. The decision, which will be made in closed session by the nine justices, could be made public that day or on the following Monday, November 14. The justices will assess five of the six pending petitions regarding issues such as the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the severability of the law.
Twenty-six states are among those who have sued over the legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president on March 23, 2010. The most important issue involves whether the Congress exceeded its power by requiring that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty. These states want the courts to make a decision before the next presidential cycle. If the court does decide to weigh the case, arguments would follow and the justices would be expected to rule by the end of their term in June 2012.
On the issue of timing, their cause got an unexpected boost from retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who said voters would be better off if they knew the law’s fate before casting their ballots next year.
The 91-year-old Stevens said in an Associated Press interview that the justices would not shy away from deciding the case in the middle of a presidential campaign and would be doing the country a service. “It would be better to have that known about than be speculated as a part of the political argument,’’ Stevens said in his Supreme Court office.
This historic challenge, by over half of the states in the nation, offers the court an ideal vehicle to resolve pressing constitutional questions arising from the President’s unprecedented legislative initiative.