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Obama health care plan: Supreme Court justices to weigh in

The Supreme Court of the United States is shown in this undated file photo.
March 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The future of health care reform is in the hands of the Supreme Court as the justices get ready to vote on its constitutionality.

The high court met Friday. Their ruling probably won't come down until early summer. The justices have seen thousands of pages of legal paper this week and heard three days of oral arguments.

Vice President Joe Biden says he's confident the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

In the weeks following Friday's meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other's draft opinions and dissents. A single justice will likely be assigned to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, two or more justices may write the opinion, each tackling different issues.

Experts say the Friday conference is not a debate. Vanderbilt University law professor Brian Fitzpatrick said there will be plenty of time for the back-and-forth in dueling opinions that could follow.

The meeting will be the first time the justices gather as a group to discuss the case. Even they do not always know what the others are thinking when they enter the conference room. All of the justices' opinions carry equal weight, but because they speak in order of seniority, it will become clear fairly quickly what will become of the health care overhaul.

Supreme Court opinions rarely find their way to the public before they are read in the marble courtroom, although the court inadvertently posted opinions and orders on its website about a half hour too soon in December.

A final ruling on the health care law is expected in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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