The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear five and a half hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of last year's health care overhaul.
Those arguments will likely be held next March, according to SCOTUSblog, and a decision should be released by the end of June.
The Court will hear the case of Health and Human Services v. Florida, et al., in which 26 states joined together to challenge the mandate and other portions of the law. In January, District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled against the mandate and struck down the entire health care in the process.
This is what the Obama administration had asked for, in part to ensure that they're the ones to get to argue the case (if a Republican wins in 2012, a GOP controlled White House might be less enthusiastic about defending the merits of the mandate).
There are political implications to the timeline as well, as the Court's announcement virtually assures that the health care law and its mandate to purchase health insurance will be front-page news just as the presidential election is kicking into high gear.
Update: The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein argues that the decision to take the multistate challenge is good news for critics of the mandate:
This is great news for opponents of Obamacare, because the case, which comes out of the 11th Circuit of Appeals, is the best briefed and best argued of all of the various legal challenges to the health care law. It's the case that opponents of the law won at both the district court and appellate level.
Former solicitor general Paul Clement and Michael Carvin of Jones Day (who also has lots of experience before the Supreme Court) did a masterful job arguing the case before the 11th circuit. Georgetown Law Professor and constitutional law whiz Randy Barnett is also an advisor to the NFIB on the suit.
SCOTUSblog, noting that the five and half hours of arguments constitute a modern record record, explains how that time will be broken up:
The Court will hold two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the requirement that virtually every American obtain health insurance by 2014, 90 minutes on whether some or all of the overall law must fail if the mandate is struck down, one hour on whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars some or all of the challenges to the insurance mandate, and one hour on the constitutionality of the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. The Court chose those issues from appeals by the federal government, by 26 states, and by a business trade group. It opted not to review the challenges to new health care coverage requirements for public and private employers. It left untouched petitions by a conservative advocacy group and three of its members and by Liberty University and two of its employees.