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Players, politics and preview of SCOTUS battle over health care

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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We are two weeks away from one of the most significant Supreme Court hearings in American history. Arguments will center on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – and whether or not individuals can be forced to carry health insurance as mandated.

The courtroom won't be the only action scene. Activists will take to the streets of Washington as hearings get underway. As “The New York Times” reported, officials in the Obama administration corralled activist groups last week to help organize and coordinate news conferences, rallies, even a prayer vigil. Opponents to the mandate will stage their own demonstrations. On March 27, the second day of the hearing, they plan to rally on the grounds of Capitol Hill.

Stakeholders and the chattering classes have also been busy debating the law for months. The legal and political wrangling over the Act has inspired mock trials, blog fights and numerous amicus briefs. One prominent Supreme Court scholar, Orin Kerr of George Washington University, also offered his prediction for the case: "Putting the numbers together, I expect 6 votes for the mandate, 1 against, and 2 uncertain. If my numbers are right, the mandate will be upheld by a vote of anywhere from 6-3 to 8-1.”

Is it really an uphill battle for the plaintiffs in this challenge? Who are the most influential players inside and outside the court? How will the arguments, the decision, and the time in-between factor into the 2012 political campaigns? Who stands to gain and lose the most politically when this case comes to the fore?


David Savage, covers the Supreme Court for the Los Angeles Times

David Nather, health care editor, Politico