It's a date: Supreme Court to hear Obamacare arguments March 26, 27, 28

Consider the dates “pinned down.” SCOTUS will hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare not just in “late March,” as was the word previously, but specifically on March 26, 27 and 28. The Hill’s Sam Baker reports:

The Supreme Court will begin on March 26 with one hour of arguments on whether it can reach a decision on the health law before 2014. There is a possibility that a separate federal law prevents the courts from ruling until the law’s individual mandate has taken effect.

On March 27, the justices will hear two hours of arguments on the core question of whether the mandate is unconstitutional.

And on March 28, the court will hear arguments on two issues: how much, if any, of the law’s other provisions can be upheld if the mandate is unconstitutional; and whether the health law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.

As Ed pointed out when the Court first agreed to take the case, not even the Republican primary debates are likely to have as much impact on the 2012 general election as this particular showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Supreme Court. And as the New York Post noted at the time, March dates allow plenty of time for a decision in late June, more than four months before Election Day.

In part because the GOP candidates all ostensibly agree about the course to pursue regarding Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t necessarily received as much play in the GOP debates as it should have. But, as a reminder, a plurality of Americans still want the law repealed — and with good reason.

How is Obamacare wrong for America? Let me count the ways. The individual mandate is an intrusion on liberty, the tax increases are a drag on job creation and the employer mandate is a burden on businesses, to name just a few. Honestly accounted, the law is also a budget-buster.

The Supreme Court’s debate won’t touch most of that, but, if it decides the individual mandate is unconstitutional and decides it’s not severable from the rest of the law, Obamacare will effectively be dead. That alone would be worth celebrating — but the perception of Obama that that decision would create — that he’s a careless-of-the-Constitution president — might actually have the longer-lasting impact on the law and politics if it helped to lead to a loss for the incumbent in November.