(Reuters) – Oral arguments on President Barack Obama’s sweeping U.S. healthcare overhaul will last 5-1/2 hours spread over three days from March 26-28, the Supreme Court said on Monday.
The Supreme Court last month agreed to hear the 5-1/2 hours of oral arguments, one of the lengthiest arguments in recent years. There have been similar marathon sessions in a handful of big cases dating back over the past 70 years.
The court said it would hear one hour of arguments on March 26 on whether the legal challenges to the requirement that all Americans buy insurance must wait until after that part of the law has taken effect in 2014.
At issue is a federal law, the Anti-Injunction Act, and whether the requirement that Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty is effectively a tax covered by that law and can only be challenged after the penalty has been imposed.
The court said it would hear two hours of arguments on March 27 on the constitutional issue at the heart of the battle — whether Congress overstepped its powers by adopting the insurance purchase requirement known as the individual mandate.
The Obama administration is defending the requirement as a constitutional effort by Congress to address a national crisis while 26 states led by Florida and an independent business group challenge it as an unprecedented intrusion of congressional authority under the Constitution.
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