In his last press release on the Supreme Court hearings, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott, (who argued on behalf of Texas and the other 25 states opposing the law on Monday) stated, “Right now, based upon all the comments I’m hearing from the court, I’m anticipating a very favorable resolution of this case in favor of the State of Texas and in favor of the taxpayers of this state.”
The court met in closed session today to take a preliminary vote on the case. Generally the judges first determine the majority and minority positions. The Chief Justice then assigns a judge to write an opinion for each side. Individual judges may also write separate opinions supporting their position if they believe that an aspect of the case needs additional clarification. A judicial opinion requires meticulous research including a review of relevant precedents, statutes relevant documents, and the record of the case as it moved up from the District and Circuit Courts.
It is possible for a judge to change his or her opinion during this process. In close cases, the majority might change. Only after all the opinions are submitted, reviewed, edited, and signed will the court announce its final judgment. Attorney General Abbott believed it might not be before June.
If the Supreme Court declares an element of the law unconstitutional, it will state whether the entire statute must be stricken or if certain portions might stand. The third day of hearings (link to official audio file) focused on that aspect of the case. However, in earlier arguments and public statements, the Obama administration has taken the position that the mandates are an essential part of the entire reform. Most of the opponents agree. If the court agrees, the entire Health Care of 2010 will be stricken. The effect is the same as if Congress repealed the law, so the process of debate would have to start over.