5.5 Hours of Oral Argument

Everyone knew the Court would grant cert in the health care cases; the surprising part is that the Court is allowing a whopping 5.5 hours of oral argument for the various issues. Lyle Denniston explains:

The Court will hold two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the requirement that virtually every American obtain health insurance by 2014, 90 minutes on whether some or all of the overall law must fail if the mandate is struck down, one hour on whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars some or all of the challenges to the insurance mandate, and one hour on the constitutionality of the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.

The Court’s decision to give these cases so much oral argument time should be welcomed by the challengers to the statute, and should make the Justice Department a bit nervous. From its inception, the challenge to the mandate has been a request for the Justices to do something extraordinary; I believe Randy Barnett initially analogized the prospects of the Court striking down the statute as akin to seeking another Bush v. Gore. The Court’s decision to give these issue so much oral argument time suggests to me that at least some of the Justices see these cases as extraordinary, likely a necessary step if the Court is to decide the cases in an extraordinary way. I still think it’s quite unlikely that the Court will strike down the statute, but the award of so much oral argument time should be a hopeful sign for the challengers.