Obama

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Supreme Court last week set a detailed briefing schedule in the multistate lawsuit against President Barack Obama's federal health care law.

Fourteen states, later joined by 12 others, filed a challenge to the law in March 2010. The 26 states' main argument is that the law's individual mandate requiring all Americans purchase health insurance or face a $695 penalty every year is unconstitutional.

The states filed a petition in September to have their challenge heard immediately by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation's high court agreed in November to hear the case.

According to the Court's docket Thursday, briefs now can be filed on whether the mandate is constitutional, whether the law can stand if the mandate is found unconstitutional and whether a challenge to the mandate can be decided before any penalties are imposed.

On the minimum coverage provision issue, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. must file a brief on or before Jan. 6. The respondents' briefs must be filed on or before Feb. 6.

A reply brief then must be filed on or before March 7, according to the Court's schedule.

On the anti-injunction issue, the Court said a brief by the Court-appointed amicus curiae must be filed on or before Jan. 6. The briefs of the solicitor general and respondents must be filed on or before Feb. 6.

Any reply briefs of the solicitor general and respondents must be filed on or before Feb. 27, while the reply brief of the amicus curiae must be filed on or before March 12.

On the severability issue, the briefs of the petitioners must be filed on or before Jan. 6 and the solicitor general's brief must be filed on or before Jan. 27, the Court said.

The brief of the amicus curiae then must be filed on or before Feb. 17, and those reply briefs of the solicitor general and the petitioners must be filed on or before March 13.

As for the law's Medicaid issue, the petitioners' brief must be filed on or before Jan. 10 and the solicitor general's brief must be filed on or before Feb. 10, the Court said.

The reply brief on that issue must be filed on or before March 12.

The Court said other amici curiae can file separate briefs on each issue they plan to address.

Some experts say a decision on the law could come as soon as June.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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