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Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Obama's Healthcare Law

by Sam Baker

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear the legal challenges to President Obama’s healthcare law.

President Barack Obama signs the healthcare legislation March 23, 2010. The Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear the legal challenges to Obama’s healthcare law. (REUTERS/Jason Reed) The high court granted a hearing in the suit filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The court said it will hear the lawsuit’s challenge to the healthcare law’s individual mandate — the requirement that almost all people in the United States buy insurance.

The decision means that the high court will be reviewing the healthcare law at the height of the 2012 election season.

As they weigh the mandate, the justices will have to consider how it affects other parts of the law. If they find the coverage requirement unconstitutional, they will have to decide whether to strike it down on its own or instead strike down the entire law.

The justices also will determine whether a separate federal law bars them from reaching a decision on the mandate before it takes effect. People can’t challenge a tax before they have to pay it, and the Obama administration has defended the mandate by invoking Congress’s taxing power. But it has also said the court should bypass procedural issues and rule directly on the mandate.

Two federal courts of appeals have said the mandate is constitutional under Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. One has ruled the law unconstitutional, and one said it could not reach a decision on the mandate because of the aforementioned tax law.

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