06/28/2012 09:20 am ET Updated Jun 28, 2012

Supreme Court Health Care Ruling Anxiously Awaited By Civil Rights Groups (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The Supreme Court voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Follow HuffPost's live coverage and analysis here.

Valerie Jarrett, the White House senior adviser and a member of the Obamas' inner circle, sat down with a group of African-American journalists in New Orleans last Saturday to discuss the White House's policy agenda. The question that came up over and over was about what the White House planned to do if the Supreme Court repealed all or part of the president's health care law.

Barrett said that the White House was preparing for different outcomes, but was coy when pressed for specifics.

"You know what, right now ... we have a robust legislative agenda," she said. "When the Supreme Court rules, we'll have plenty of time to talk about what happens afterward."

The justices are set to rule Thursday morning on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, one of the president's signature domestic achievements. There are lots of moving parts to the law, but the biggest issues before the court are whether the government can impose an individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase some kind of health care coverage or pay a fee, and whether the federal government can require the states to create and organize "exchanges," through which citizens can compare the health insurance options available in their states.

But for civil rights groups, the tentpoles of the Affordable Care Act offer a rare opportunity to ameliorate some of the racial disparities in health care access and health outcomes for minorities. Leaders of many civil rights organizations have been staunch advocates of the law, and they too are preparing for what the justices might decide.

Blacks and Latinos make up a disproportionate amount of the uninsured. According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, one in five black Americans has no health insurance, while the number of uninsured Latinos is about three in ten. Combined, just under half of all uninsured Americans are black or brown.

A study conducted by the Urban Policy Institute found that once all of the law's components go into effect, it could reduce the number of uninsured black people by half and the number of uninsured Latinos by just under a quarter. "If uninsurance is reduced to the extent projected in this analysis, sizable reductions in long-standing racial and ethnic differentials in access to health care and health status are likely to follow," the study's authors wrote.

Roslyn Brock, the chairman of the NAACP's board and a health care executive, said that she was optimistic that the law would be allowed to stand, but added that supporters would still have something to work with if the court struck down certain portions of it.

"If the individual mandate falls, and the rest of the provisions stand, that is a workable solution for us in the civil rights community," she said. Brock said that the health care exchanges in the bill would likely become a priority of civil rights groups.

"Some community centers are currently being built to expand coverage," Jennifer Ng'andu, who works in health policy at the National Council of La Raza, told NBCLatino. "If the law is repealed, what are we going to do, tear the buildings down?"

But the NAACP is making contingency plans in the event of total repeal. "The worst-case scenario is that we will work to ensure to make sure Medicaid coverage is in place for the working poor," Brock said. Medicaid, which pays for health coverage for the poor, does not cover many Americans who make too much money to qualify for the program but not enough to pay for insurance on their own.

Brock said that regardless of the way the court rules, she anticipated that Congress would come to a standstill. "After this decision is rendered, nothing is going to happen until January," she said. "There will be so much uncertainty until the nation determines who its next leader will be."

"People are just waiting to see what happens in November," Brock said. "That's why it's important for civil rights organizations and other groups to go out and mobilize their folks [to vote]."

This story has been updated for clarity.