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The Supreme Court has a lot on its plate this term, and could well inject itself into the 2012 presidential race by ruling definitively on the healthcare law next spring or summer:

The Supreme Court convenes Monday for what could be the most significant term of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s six-year tenure, with an agenda that both reflects the nation’s political landscape and offers the potential to reshape it.

The dominant theme is the one that has divided the country and fueled the debate between tea party Republicans and President Obama since the 2010 election: the extent of the federal government’s power.

The justices are being asked to decide the constitutionality of the landmark health-care act, the ability of states to enforce strict immigration laws and whether the government can continue to monitor the airwaves for indecency.

The court could also reopen the question of affirmative action in college admissions, rule on the rights of gay adoptive parents and decide whether the blindingly fast pace of modern technology has reshaped Americans’ notion of privacy.

“Whatever the last term lacked in blockbuster cases, here’s one that’s really for the ages,” said Paul D. Clement, solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration.

Some high-profile decisions could actually boost Barack Obama’s standing among depressed liberals, as many feel his Supreme Court appointments represent one area where he has delivered the goods.

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