In the court's court. Before the Supreme Court decides whether or not to take up the case, each of the parties must respond to the opposition's appeals. The government will have to respond to the independent business group's appeal by October 28, the same date both of the law's challengers must respond to the government's appeal. And the government's due date for responding to the states' appeal is October 31. After the responses are in, the parties may also file replies to the response briefs.
After reviewing all relevant petitions and response briefs, the Supreme Court will announce whether or not it will take the case. Experts expect this announcement will probably come late in November, unless the court decides to wait for the appeal petition process in the Fourth Circuit case to play out. A few months of briefings—another round of written back-and-forth volleys between the parties and other relevant groups—would follow if they take the 11th Circuit case.
As the presidential contest heats up in early spring, the question of the healthcare law's constitutionality will likely be front and center as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments. Then, likely in June, smack in the middle of campaign politics, the Supreme Court will hand down its decision, delivering a political win either to President Obama or his Republican opponent.
Once the political aftermath subsides, however, the court's ruling will, at long last, provide some measure of certainty for agencies and states wondering how to move forward and implement the law—or not.