SCOTUS will rule on healthcare, immigration next week
The Supreme Court Justices pose for a picture in 2010. (Source: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/The Oyez Project)
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill, March 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Gov. Jan Brewer signs into law Senate Bill 1070 on April 23, 2010. (Source: Office of the Arizona Governor)
WASHINGTON (RNN) - People hoping to get the Supreme Court's ruling on the 2010 Affordable Care Act or Arizona's immigration law will have to wait a little longer.
Justices handed down opinions today, but the controversial cases weren't among their rulings.
The Court also will decide a case that could limit criminal sentences for minors.
Assuming Justices issue one opinion on the healthcare law, they have six more to hand down before they go on break at the end of the month.
Today they ruled in a case against the Federal Communications Commission, which claimed the group had rules too "vague" to be enforceable for "indecent" television. The Court agreed with the TV networks in the case, but declined to extend the ruling further.
Is the government overreaching with the 2010 healthcare law?
The most anticipated decision is on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration's signature healthcare law.
Justices have the chance to strike down the act's controversial mandate that Americans must have health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty.
If they decide the penalty is unconstitutional, they could also strike down the entirety of the nearly 3,000 page bill.
On March 27, the federal government argued the mandate is necessary to keep prices low in the insurance market, since providers would not be able to take into account prior medical history when they decide insurance rates.
The solicitor general also argued the law was constitutional because of Congress's power to tax and regulate interstate commerce.
Arguing for 26 states, attorney Paul D. Clement said there were alternatives to mandatory health insurance that should have been enacted instead - including requiring people to get health insurance the first time they need some sort of care.
Clement argued the federal government had no right to make people enter any market - including the health insurance market.
Do states have the power to regulate immigration?
While the Justices consider how much power the federal government has over market regulation, they will also decide how much power states have on issues of national security.
The Court will issue a decision on Arizona's 2010 immigration bill, S.B. 1070.
The act would require police to check citizenship status during traffic stops "where reasonable suspicion exists" the person is in the U.S. illegally. It would also require officers to verify citizenship when people are arrested and put more pressure on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
The law was the strictest of its kind when it was enacted and has inspired similar legislation in other states. Lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois and Utah will undoubtedly be watching to see whether their similar laws can survive the Supreme Court decision.
The federal government argued the law is invalid because federal immigration laws trump those at the state level. Arizona argued the law didn't conflict with immigration law but matched it almost entirely, with the exception that it encouraged more frequent citizenship checks.
How harsh is too harsh when sentencing juvenile offenders?
A smaller case may mark the third time in seven years the Supreme Court has made a decision to limit the kinds of criminal sentence minors can get.
The Court will decide whether life in prison without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment when it's handed down to a minor in cases involving homicide.
In 2005, the Court said a death sentence was too harsh for juvenile offenders. In 2010, it barred courts from sentencing minors to life in prison without the possibility of parole in non-homicide cases.
The challenge comes from two 14-year-olds in Arkansas and Alabama who were given the sentence, although neither of them was charged with committing a murder themselves. The two accomplices, who were charged with felony murder, are appealing.
The Justices will release opinions Thursday and Monday, although it's possible they could extend their decision days further into next week.
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