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Supreme Court to hear arguments in Obamacare case a week after election

The election's impact on the Supreme Court
The election's impact on the Supreme Court 04:19

Washington — The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a high-profile dispute that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act on November 10, the court said Wednesday, one week after the presidential election.

Arguments in the case are scheduled to span one hour. Many judicial groups are working to make the Supreme Court a motivating issue for voters and believe the next president could have the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the court.

The legal battle before the justices was brought by a group of Republican-led states challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare's individual mandate. As part of the GOP's overhaul of the tax code in 2017, Congress abolished the financial penalty for people who do not purchase health insurance, and the GOP states believe the individual mandate — a key pillar of the Obama-era health care law — is now unconstitutional.

The red states and the Trump administration also argue that the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the health care law, and the entirety of the statute should fall as a result.

A federal district judge in Texas agreed with the Republican-led states that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and struck down the entirety of Obamacare in 2018, finding it cannot survive without the mandate. But the judge's ruling was put on hold while the case moved through the courts. 

In December, a divided panel of judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of the GOP-led states, finding the individual mandate unconstitutional. The New Orleans-based court, however, did not decide whether the rest of Obamacare could stand and kicked the case back to the lower court.

The Supreme Court agreed in March to hear the case, and the decision is expected by the end of June 2021. The court upheld the individual mandate in a pivotal 2012 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined four liberal justices in ruling that Congress had the authority to enforce the mandate under its taxing power.

The Trump administration is siding with the states challenging Obamacare, and President Trump often attacks the health care law. He has vowed to put forth his own health care plan, but has yet to do so.

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