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Justices Meet to Decide Fate of Health-Reform Legislation
Date:3/30/2012

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Now comes the hard part.

Following three days of arguments that ended Wednesday over the constitutionality of the health-reform legislation passed by Congress in 2010, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will meet Friday and begin to decide whether the entire law -- or key provisions -- can stand.

While their final decision won't be announced until June, an initial vote on the fate of the polarizing legislation will take place Friday. Then during the weeks to follow, individual votes can change as the justices read each other's working drafts of opinions and dissents, the Associated Press reported.

Equally hard is trying to predict just how the justices -- typically described as four conservatives, four liberals and one "swing" member -- will vote.

Twenty-six states have challenged the constitutionality of the law, primarily over two provisions -- a requirement that most adults have health insurance by 2014 or face a penalty, and an expansion of Medicaid, the government-run insurance program for lower-income individuals.

Arguments over those provisions dominated much of this week's hearing before the high court.

"It's very hard to tell what can happen as a result of the oral arguments. [Justice Samuel] Alito has moved firmly into my 'no' vote column. But I think [Chief Justice John] Roberts and [Justice Anthony] Kennedy are still possible votes to uphold the statute," said Renee Landers, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, who wrote a recent commentary on the law in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"I think we learned from the oral arguments that definitely the four Democratic appointees -- [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, [Justice Stephen] Breyer, [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor and [Justice Elena] Kagan -- will definitely vote to uphold every part of the statute," she said. '/>"/>

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