The mystery that has gripped the nation’s capital is over: The Supreme Court almost certainly will release its landmark decisions on the health care reform law on Thursday.
At the end of Monday’s session, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. announced to spectators that the Court’s final session of the term will be June 28, at which time the Court will release all remaining opinions that are “ready during this term of Court.”.
Roberts did not mention the trio of health care suits by name, but they are among the cases he was talking about. The others are United States v. Alvarez, testing the constitutionality that makes it a crime to lie about having won a military honor, and First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards, a dispute under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.
It is rare that the public knows ahead of time which day the Court will hand down which opinions. The justices never give advance notice, by longstanding tradition. But sometimes, as in this instance, the public can figure it out by process of elimination when the end of the term draws near.
Armed with this certainty, groups that had geared up for press conferences today scratched their plans. The National Federation of Independent Business, the lead plaintiff challenging the health care law, rescheduled its telephone press conference until noon on Thursday.
Is there a chance the health care decisions will not be issued Thursday? Yes, if Roberts’ standard announcement from the bench is to be taken literally; If the decisions are not ready, they won’t be issued. And they might not be ready if the Court has decided at the last minute to schedule the cases for re-argument for the fall term beginning in October. This sometimes happens when the justices simply cannot come to a decision before the end of the term, or if a majority thinks a major or new issue needs to be fleshed out by a new round of briefs and arguments.
But almost nobody thinks that will happen this time. Thursday will be the day.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.