'Case of century': Justices to hear record five-and-a-half hours of oral arguments

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court on President Obama's healthcare law will be nearly six hours, setting what is believed to be a modern-day record.

The Supreme Court set aside five-and-a-half hours for lengthy oral arguments on the challenge to the healthcare law, underscoring the importance of the case.


This includes a challenge to the new law's massive Medicaid expansion, which many observers didn’t think would make the cut.

“I think the court hears that this is the biggest case of the century,” said Randy Barnett, a Georgetown University law professor who is working with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

The high court on Monday culled together pieces of the appeals filed by the Justice Department and by the NFIB and 26 states.

The arguments, which could be split over multiple days, will break down as follows:

• two hours on the core question of whether the individual coverage mandate is constitutional;

• one hour on whether a separate tax law bars the court from reaching a decision on the constitutional question;

• one hour on whether the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional; and

• an hour-and-a-half on whether, if the mandate is unconstitutional, other parts of the healthcare law must also be struck down.