Prior to oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the health care reform law starting on March 26, there was speculation the court could use the first day’s argument to decide not to issue a ruling this year. Now, the speculation is that the court is determined to rule this summer, according to published reports.

The question on Day 1 was the constitutionality of issuing a penalty on 2015 income tax returns against individuals who do not obtain health insurance by 2014. The federal Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 prohibits legal challenges until taxpayers start to pay a penalty, and the possibility exists that the Court could put off definitive rulings on reform until 2015. But the justices on March 26 did not seem inclined to move in that direction, the Washington Post and CNN, among others, report.

In a statement, Maureen Martin, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank opposed to the reform law, echoed the belief that punting to 2015 isn’t in the cards.

“The Supreme Court was uninterested in the argument today that the penalties imposed on those who fail to purchase health insurance from private insurance providers--the ‘individual mandate’--amount to a tax. The Court had to cover this base because several lower courts raised it. But its disinterest in this argument is a promising sign that the Court intends to reach the merits of the argument that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The full transcript of Monday’s argument is available here.

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