WASHINGTON— The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will hear arguments next March about President Obama’s health-care overhaul — a case that could shake the political landscape as voters decide if Obama deserves a second term in office.
The 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 justices announced they will hear an extraordinary 5 1/2 hours of arguments from lawyers on the constitutionality of the individual mandate — requiring the purchase of health insurance — and three related questions. 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 the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.
That case consumed four hours. But this argument may spread over two days, as the justices rarely hear more than two or three hours of arguments a day.
A White House spokesman said, “We are pleased that the court has agreed to hear this case.”
“We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” said White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer.