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Health care ruling likely to come Thursday

Mark your calendars: The Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality is almost certainly going to come down Thursday about 10 a.m.

The court announced on Monday that Thursday would be the last day of this year's term. Unless the justices decide to punt on it until next year — an outcome that is possible but thought to be unlikely — the decision will come on that day.

We don't know how the Supreme Court will rule on the health care law; the justices tend to be better at keeping secrets than the CIA. But court watchers expect that Chief Justice John Roberts will author the opinion. The justices tend to split the workload each term, especially when it comes to high-profile and complicated rulings; Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion in the Arizona immigration case.

"From the opinion authorship, health care is almost certainly being written by Chief Justice Roberts, perhaps in part with Justice Kennedy," said Tom Goldstein, who writes for SCOTUSBlog.

You might also see some court watchers reading the tea leaves about what the Arizona ruling, which partly struck down the state's controversial anti-immigration law, means for Obama- care.

For a while, there's been some thinking that the Supreme Court might split the difference between the two, ruling in the Obama administration's favor in one case but not the other.

The court's opinion on Arizona has made it a bit difficult to figure out how the two decisions will overlap. And it leaves us waiting anxiously for Thursday morning.

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