WASHINGTON (AP) — Legal experts have offered a range of opinions on what the Supreme Court might do when it hears challenges to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The challenges have resulted in conflicting rulings from federal courts.
Oral arguments are now set for March, with a ruling likely before summer -- and months before the presidential election.
Many prominent Supreme Court lawyers believe the law will be upheld by a lopsided vote, with Republican and Democratic appointees ruling in favor. Others predict a close outcome, with Justice Anthony Kennedy holding the deciding vote. He's a Republican who sometimes joins his four Democratic colleagues.
In addition to deciding whether the law's central mandate -- requiring people to buy health insurance -- is constitutional, the justices will also determine whether the rest of the law can take effect even if the insurance requirement is struck down.
The administration says most of the law could still function.
The court will also look at the expansion of the Medicaid program, even though no lower court questioned that provision.
And the justices will consider whether arguments over the validity of the law are premature -- because a federal law generally prohibits challenges to taxes until the taxes are paid.
(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)