Health care law overturn no slam dunk
(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Wednesday marks the final day of oral arguments at the Supreme Court in the historic challenge to the Obama health care law.
On Tuesday, lawyers focused on the law's requirement that everyone buy health insurance.
Outside the Supreme Court, an opponent of the law had newfound confidence.
"Between coming out and going in," said Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, "I'm happier coming out than when I went in -- let me put it to you that way."
Inside the court, the cornerstone of the health care law, the individual mandate that requires all Americans buy insurance, came under fire.
Justice Antonin Scalia asked, "What? What is left? If the government can do this, what -- what else can it not do?"
The conservative justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate, suggested the law went too far and would give Congress broad new powers to dictate behavior.
"That," said Kennedy, "is different from what we have in previous cases; that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way."
The tough questions had leading proponents of the health care law raising concerns that the government didn't make its case, putting the law in jeopardy. Some are going so far as to point the finger at U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who represented the government before the court.
But justices always hammer lawyers on the other side with tough questions. And justices who are sympathetic jump in and try to help out the lawyer. It happens all the time.
There were very tough questions from conservative justices and that key swing vote, Justice Kennedy, who could provide the decisive fifth vote for the majority.
But think about what they're going to do now: They're going to go back and talk about this case among themselves, start writing opinions, and they can change their minds. Justice Kennedy has done it before more than once - thought the liberal justices seemed deeply committed to supporting this law. I wouldn't look for them to change their minds.
To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.
- Jan Crawford
Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.Follow on Twitter »
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