Supreme Court to review health reform lawsuits next month

The Supreme Court will consider whether to hear a challenge to the healthcare reform law at a private conference on Nov. 10.

Six separate petitions have been filed asking the court to decide whether the law’s individual coverage mandate is constitutional. Five of the six cases will be before the justices on Nov. 10.

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The conference will be the court’s first formal discussion on the issue. The justices must decide whether to take up any of the healthcare lawsuits, which one to take and how to consolidate the various issues raised in competing briefs.

The court could announce its decision as early as Nov. 14, though it does not always move that quickly on requests for a hearing.

The justices are widely expected to take the suit filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The states, NFIB and the Obama administration have all said that’s the case the court should accept, and all sides have pushed for a quick hearing and a decisive ruling on whether the mandate is constitutional.

The only case not on the Supreme Court’s Nov. 10 agenda is the suit filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He sued under a different rationale than the other 26 states, and a lower court dismissed his case.

The Obama administration has pressed for a quick decision from the Supreme Court; the question of the law's legality could be settled next summer, just months before the 2012 election.