What exactly does the Supreme Court want with an ObamaCare challenge in the spring? It’s tough to say, but it certainly looks as though the top court plans to settle the latest legal threat to the legislation sooner rather than later. The court’s previous decision by John Roberts ruled decided was constitutional in the middle of a presidential election. Are we about to see a do-over? Or a rerun?
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Trump administration and states challenging Obamacare to respond by Friday to an appeal filed by defenders of the health care law.
Such a highly abbreviated timeline — the rules normally allow a month for filing a response — gives the court the option to take up the case during its current term, which would mean a ruling on a contentious issue this spring, just as the presidential campaign heats up.
Nineteen blue states, led by California, asked the Supreme Court last week for a quick decision on whether to take the case. They’re appealing last month’s ruling by a federal appeals court that said Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of the law cannot survive without it.
In this case, time is of the essence. The orders would allow the court to decide whether to grant the request of the states to add oral arguments to their appeal on the court’s last scheduled day for it, or to take an extraordinary step of adding a day in May for a hearing. That would allow the court to then issue a decision on the Fifth Circuit ruling from last month that ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional, now that no penalty exists for violating it, just as Democrats finish their primary and both parties prepare to launch their general-election campaigns.