Supreme Court Likely to Rule on Health Law in 2012

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President Obama's health care law is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court just as the 2012 election season heats up.

On Wednesday, the White House formally appealed the case to the high court after a ruling by the federal appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the law's core requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.

The administration said the appeals court decision declaring the law's central provision unconstitutional was "fundamentally flawed."

The winners of the appellate case, 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, also asked the high court for a review Wednesday. They say the entire law and not just the individual insurance mandate should be struck down.

The law, which affects virtually every American, will likely figure into the president's reelection campaign. The Republican presidential candidates have already made it a platform issue, targeting the law in every debate and speech.

But it's the timing of the court filing that has political pundits and court watchers shaking their heads.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in an interview with the Associated Press that voters would be better off if they knew the law's fate before casting their ballots next year.

The 91-year-old Stevens said the justices would not shy away from deciding the case in the middle of a presidential campaign and would be doing the country a service.

"It would be better to have that known about than be speculated as a part of the political argument," Stevens said in his Supreme Court office overlooking the Capitol.

The Supreme Court's annual term begins next week.

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