Obamacare decision now likely Thursday UPDATE: Roberts to write opinion?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

The U.S. Supreme Court did not announce its widely anticipated health care ruling today, but it did announce that it would release more opinions on Thursday, which will be the last day of the term. That means, barring something unexpected, the Court will most likely be releasing the health care decision that morning.

Though it didn’t release the health care decision, the morning was not without its drama, as the court largely invalidated the Arizona immigration law. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy concluded, “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration…but the State may not pursue polices that undermine federal law.”

Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito filed three separate opinions, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

UPDATE: Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein has speculated that based on the authorship of recent opinions, it’s likely that Chief Justice Roberts is writing the health care opinion. This, predictably, has launched a wave of speculation. It’s worth keeping in mind that this revelation — if true — really doesn’t give us much clue about how the court will rule. If we knew for certain that, say, Clarence Thomas on one side or Elena Kagan on the other, was writing the health care opinion, it would be easier to predict. But ever since oral arguments, the conventional wisdom has been that it would either be a 5 to 4 decision to strike down the law, or a 6 to 3 decision to uphold it. After oral arguments, I closely dissected Roberts’ statements and questions and concluded that he seemed ready to strike down at least the mandate. But others have speculated that if Kennedy is voting to uphold, Roberts may choose to join him so he can have more influence on the writing of the opinion, making it 6 to 3. Bottom line: everybody who follows this case will be on pins and needles until Thursday morning, just after 10am.

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