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SCOTUS agrees to hear landmark case that could topple Obamacare forever

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The stakes are high

RHONA WISE/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will review a GOP-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act, setting the stage for the possible dismantling of former President Barack Obama's signature achievement once and for all.

In late 2018, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that Obamacare became unconstitutional after Republicans gutted the law's so-called individual mandate in their 2017 tax reform passage. In overturning the mandate, Republicans removed the basis for which the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare in 2012.

In an appeal last December, the 5th Circuit Court agreed that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but remanded the case to the lower court to decide whether Obamacare could stand without the individual mandate.

That is the question that Democrats have pressed the Supreme Court to answer.

In January, Democrats asked the court for an expedited hearing, arguing uncertainty created by the court rulings will have "adverse consequences," according to NBC News. But the Supreme Court rejected the request.

Instead, the high court added the case to their docket for next term, which begins in October. It's not yet clear when the court will hear oral arguments, but given the current timetable, it is almost certain that the ruling will not impact the election in November.

However, the political implications of the court's decision cannot be understated. Not only is Obama's signature presidential achievement on the line — which Republicans have opposed from its inception — but the toppling of Obamacare could create unintended backlash for Republicans.

One facet of the law that has enjoyed overwhelming support is its requirement about Americans with pre-existing conditions. If the law is gutted for good, Republicans will undoubtedly have to answer the estimated 54 million Americans who have "pre-existing conditions" and could be adversely impacted by the court's decision.

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