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Monday, November 14, 2011

Supreme Court to take up ObamaCare in March

(CBS/AP) Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear arguments next March over President Obama's health care overhaul — a case that could shake the political landscape as voters are deciding if Mr. Obama deserves another term.

This decision to hear arguments in the spring sets up an election-year showdown over the White House's main domestic policy achievement. And it allows plenty of time for a decision in late June, just over four months before Election Day.

"The court could endorse the measure, it could say the law is constitutional; it could strike it down and say it's not," said CBS News senior legal analyst Andrew Cohen. "Or the justices could not agree, and they could decide to delay it for a while. That's happened before in certain high-profile cases. I can't imagine it would happen again, but, look, anything's possible."

The justices announced they will hear an extraordinary five-and-a-half hours of arguments from lawyers on the constitutionality of a provision at the heart of the law and three other related questions about the act. The central provision in question is the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty.

In the modern era, the last time the court allotted anywhere near this much time for arguments was in 2003 for consideration of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. That case consumed four hours of argument. This argument may spread over two days, as the justices rarely hear more than two or three hours a day.

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