By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a bid by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and 20 Democratic-led states to fast-track consideration of their appeal seeking a definitive ruling that the Obamacare healthcare law does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The brief order means that the court, even if decides to take up the case at a later date, is almost certain not to hear arguments or issue a ruling in its current term, which ends in June. The court’s refusal to intervene on an expedited basis means that the fate of Obamacare, which has helped millions of Americans obtain medical insurance, will remain uncertain for an extended period of time – at least until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The House and states including New York and California want the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of a Dec. 18 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the law’s “individual mandate” that required people to obtain health insurance ran afoul of the Constitution.

The petitions asked the Supreme Court to hear the case quickly and issue a definitive ruling by the end of June.

Texas and 17 other conservative states – backed by President Donald Trump’s administration – filed a lawsuit challenging the law, which was signed by Democratic former President Barack Obama in 2010 over strenuous Republican opposition. A district court judge in Texas ruled in 2018 that the entire law was unconstitutional.

As part of December’s appeals court ruling, the district court judge has now been tasked with taking a second look at whether the law needs to be struck down in full or whether provisions aside from the individual mandate could be retained.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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