George Will not engaging in hyperbole (though some might say Roe and subsequent abortion cases, not to mention Baker v. Carr, Griswold v. Connecticut, or Kelo v. City of New London)*:
The Obamacare issues of Medicaid coercion and the individual mandate are twins. They confront the court with the same challenge, that of enunciating judicially enforceable limiting principles. If there is no outer limit on Congress’s power to regulate behavior in the name of regulating interstate commerce, then the Framers’ design of a limited federal government is nullified. And if there is no outer limit on the capacity of this government to coerce the states, then federalism, which is integral to the Framers’ design, becomes evanescent.
So, the time the court has allotted for oral argument about Obamacare is proportional to the stakes. This case is the most important in the more than half a century since the Brown v. Board of Education cases because, like those, it concerns the nature of the American regime.
* Bush v. Gore was important but the result would have been the same had the Court allowed the political process to play out (right?), so it can’t make that list. Other important cases that are probably beat by the ObamaCare case but which certainly merit consideration include: Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, Mapp v. Ohio, District of Columbia v. Heller, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (and subsequent Citizens United). This is just off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’ve missed other potential cases worthy of note in the post-Brown world.