Four more years? SCOTUS may postpone Obamacare ruling until 2016

Dean Clancy reports today that it might now be another four years before the Supreme Court gets around to ruling on Obamacare’s individual mandate. No doubt in the meantime the White House, HHS, et al will go right on implementing the law as if its constitutionality isn’t even being contested. So by the time the Supreme Court does strike it down – if it even does – nobody will even know where to begin to start unwinding it.

All the more reason to vote conservative this November up and down the ballot, so we can have a fighting chance at repealing this monstrosity whether SCOTUS deems it constitutional or not.

This morning’s newspapers report an ominous development in the ObamaCare litigation, now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court:

The Court posted a seemingly minor but potentially portentous administrative change, which suggests it might postpone delivering a final ruling on the constitutionality of ObamaCare until the middle of 2016!

Specifically, the high Court increased the time it will devote to hearing oral arguments on whether the health care mandate is a tax for purposes of something called the Tax Anti-Injunction Act.

The historically lengthy oral arguments in the case, HHS v. Florida — now expanded by 30 minutes to an unprecedented six hours — are slated to take place late next month. A formal ruling in the case is expected by early July.

But will it be the final ruling? That’s now less clear.

The Tax Anti-Injunction Act forbids the Supreme Court to hear a case on the constitutionality of a tax until the tax has actually been levied on a citizen.

The ObamaCare mandate is enforced by means of a penalty fine, collected by the IRS. With a few exceptions, this fine will be imposed on every citizen who doesn’t check a box on his tax return affirming that he has purchased government-controlled health insurance.

Is the IRS penalty a tax, or not? So far, lower federal courts have come down on both sides of this issue. And for complicated legal reasons, the Obama Administration has actually been taking boths sides on it: in Congress, the President’s men say it’s not a tax; in court, they say it is.

If the high Court decides the mandate is a tax, it will be a dream come true for the Administration:

  • President Obama faces reelection in November 2012.
  • ObamaCare doesn’t go into full operation until January 2014.
  • The first time the IRS can levy the mandate penalty/tax won’t be until folks file their tax returns, in mid-April 2015.
  • The slow judicial process will likely delay a final Supreme Court ruling until mid-2016.

Until now, everyone has been assuming the Court will rule on the law’s constitutionality in early July, five full months before the 2012 elections.

And we’ve all been assuming that, however the Court rules, the ruling will provide voters with a critical piece of information: What does the Supreme Court think about ObamaCare’s constitutionality?

Alas, today’s development calls that assumption into doubt. The Court might punt!

Continue reading.

Hat tip: Ace of Spades.

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