The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear arguments next March over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, accepting a case that could rival the historic Bush v. Gore ruling in shaking the political landscape.
The decision to hear arguments in the spring allows plenty of time for a decision in late June, just over four months before Election Day. This sets up an election-year showdown over the White House's main domestic policy achievement.
The justices announced they will hear more than five hours of arguments from lawyers on the constitutionality of a provision at the heart of the law, the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty, and other related questions about the act.
The White House said "we are pleased that the court has agreed to hear this case."
"We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.
Republicans have called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional since before Obama signed it into law in March 2010. But federal appeals courts have been split on their assessment.
The high court's 5-4 decision in the Bush v. Gore case nearly 11 years ago effectively sealed George W. Bush's 2000 presidential election victory.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.