After yesterday’s pre-game, the Supreme Court prepares to take up the real constitutional questions

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Briefing: Bloomberg swearing in judges. (nyc.gov via flickr)
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Today is the big day at the Supreme Court, with the justices set to consider the crux of the constitutionality question surrounding the Affordable Care Act: whether the individual mandate violates the powers allotted to the federal goverment.

The day got even bigger after Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to signal during yesterday's oral arguments, on whether the court should be considering the law now, that he wouldn't vote to delay a decision on procedural grounds.

How much today matters depends on who you ask; justices and court scholars tend to dismiss the importance of oral arguments.

But the timing certainly matters to Rick Santorum, who is trying to use the case as a rallying cry against Mitt Romney, who is painfully close to pulling away with the Republican nomination, despite his own support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts. 

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And it comes at an inopportune for Democrats in Albany, who are trying to put the finishing touches on a state budget that includes a health care exchange mandated by the new law. The budget process has been relatively pain-free, by Albany standards, but Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday Republicans have so far proven unwilling to yield on the health exchange.

Health care

It was like Bush v. Gore in there yesterday. [Dahlia Lithwick]

Maybe today will be more so. [Jeffrey Toobin]

Roberts might have "tipped his hand." [Brian Beutler]

A longtime libertarian critic of the law gets the profile treatment. [Cheryl Gay Stolberg and Charlie Savage]

Despite Santorum's best efforts, which included a stop outside the court yesterday, health care "has rarely been the driving issue" in the campaign. [Philip Rucker and Dan Balz]

2012

In a first, the White House sent a letter requesting the "expeditious enrollment" of a same-sex spouse onto the health care plan of a federal employee. [Joe Davidson

Obama said his hot mic moment about having more freedom after the election wasn't "hiding the ball." [Amie Parmes]

Mitt Romney said the public has a right to know where he plans to be "flexible" in his second term. [Alison Gendar]

Rick Santorum is having trouble with Catholics. [Katherine Q. Seelye]

The administration appointed a new ambassador to Iraq. [Donovan Slack]

Frank Bruni is glad to see Newt's press corps go. [Frank Bruni]

Albany

A budget is brewing, with votes to start on Wednesday. [Joe Spector]

Three bills were printed on Sunday. [James M. Odato]

The Associated Press attempts to answer the age-old question: "Why should I care?" [Michael Gormley]

Republican opposition to a health care exchange is part of what's holding things up. [Tom Precious]

Also at issue: whether to keep teacher evaluations public. [Fredrick Dicker]

State Senator Eric Adams at hooded Trayvon Martin protest: "It has never been a crime in America to carry Skittles and goddamned ice tea." [Casey Seiler]

Former Syracuse star Derrick Coleman donned a hoodie too, from Detroit. [Michelle Breidenbach]

The Times editorializes against the state DNA-database expansion without the inclusion of other reforms. [New York Times]

2013

Mayoral contenders attack the proposed ban on Israeli products at the Park Slope Food Co-op. [Michael Grynbaum]

They're less forthcoming about whether they would live in Gracie Mansion, where Bloomberg refuses to sleep. [Michael Howard Saul]

John Liu fired his scheduler. [Carl Campanile]

Local

Representative Charlie Rangel will pay a $23,000 fine for using a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office. [Raymond Hernandez]

Some East New York grocery workers are planning to rally with Councilman and aspiring congressman Charles Barron today. [Erin Durkin]

Video

The Obama-Medvedev hot-mic moment.