Sunday, April 11, 2010

Will Obamacare reach the SCOTUS?

Legal scholars and court historians are divided on the question of whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reach the US Supreme Court, and divisions are just as deep on the question of whether the court will strike the measure down as unconstitutional.

Regardless of where you fall on the question, don't expect quick resolution.
In this story at The Hill citing an interview on MSNBC, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says he believes the fruit won't be ripe for at least a year:

In an interview on MSNBC, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) said that he believes the challenge filed Tuesday will reach the nation's highest court as soon as a year from now.

"We filed it in the Northern District of Florida...We expect it will go onto the 11th Circuit and on to the Supreme Court," he said. "That takes a while, probably 12 to 18 months but I think it would go all the way."
Idaho's AG, Lawrence Wasden, is a little more optimistic, saying 11-13 months in comments he made to the Huffington Post. 

The Northern District of Florida is argued to be the quickest route to the high court. I won't dispute that because as a lawyer, I make a great blogger and political observer.  One of the things I've observed is that the Northern District of Florida is in the 11th Circuit, and the 11th Circuit is assigned to Clarence Thomas, one of the Court's most reliable conservatives.  Thomas will thus have great influence on whether the Court takes the matter up and when.

It's not a stretch to see the legal battle and election year politics play out over the same timeline.  The issue will certainly be at the forefront of November's mid-term elections.  Shortly after that fight's dust settles, the positioning of potential 2012 presidential candidates will begin, probably about the same time that appeals and decisions move the legal challenges forward (or stop them dead).

Opponents of the bill are in for at least a year of legal wrangling, with the outcome and its aftermath probably not known until frontrunners are emerging for the parties' nomination for President.