The U.S. Supreme Court may decide the constitutionality of the national health care law before Oklahoma's legal challenge can be heard, state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Tuesday.
“It's my understanding that even now the U.S. Supreme Court has started the process to hear arguments on it maybe as early as this fall,” Pruitt said in response to a question posted by a Facebook follower of the Oklahoma Republican Party. “I have great confidence that a decision will be made, that we will have a ruling in 2012.”
Pruitt, speaking by a streaming live video feed from the GOP headquarters in Oklahoma City, said a decision could be handed down by the first quarter of next year.
“With the U.S. Supreme Court taking the case up, who knows if we're going to get any kind of action before the U.S. Supreme Court rules?” Pruitt said in an interview later.
Pruitt said the matter will be decided by the nation's highest court because a U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in August that the national health care law's requirement for most Americans to have insurance coverage is unconstitutional.
The ruling conflicts with an earlier decision by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, which upheld the individual mandate of the health care law.
Pruitt said Oklahoma's case agrees with the Atlanta court's ruling that the health care law's provision exceeds Congress's power to regulate commerce. That ruling affirmed in part a lower court in a lawsuit filed by 26 states.
Pruitt, shortly after taking office in January, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Muskogee against the federal government, seeking to have parts of the health care law ruled unconstitutional to prevent the entire law from being enforced.