The U.S. Supreme Court building, where oral arguments begin Monday. (J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
On Monday, the Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in one of the most politically charged cases in years. Attorneys representing 26 states, most led by Republican governors, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) will spar with Justice Department lawyers over what President Obama called his proudest achievement--health care reform.
Challengers will argue that requiring all Americans to buy health insurance is an illegal and unprecedented act of government overreach, while the Justice Department will counter that it's a routine exercise of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. The Supreme Court will most likely hand down its decision in late June, right in the middle of the heated 2012 presidential election.
Here's our handy guide to the six hours of arguments which will take place over three days.
Day One: Is it too early for the Supreme Court to decide on the law?
If you're looking for fireworks between the opposing camps, you may want to come back on Tuesday.
That's because on Monday, government lawyers and their opponents will start off on the same side. Both will fend off the argument from an outside attorney that the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act--which prohibits individuals from challenging a tax in court before it is enforced--prevents the Supreme Court from deciding on health care reform's legality before 2015.
The challengers--the NFIB and 26 states--will retort that the health care mandate penalty is not a tax and thus doesn't fall under the Anti-Injunction Act. They also argue that they are not suing over the monetary penalty, but over the mandate itself. The Justice Department uses a more complex legal argument to oppose the Act's application, since it doesn't want to rule out the possibility that the penalty, which will be collected by the IRS, is a kind of tax.Read More »from The Supreme Court’s health care reform case–What to expect