High court health care law showdown nears

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Friday marks two years since President Obama signed what is considered his key legislative achievement: the health care reform law.

And next week, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of that legislation.

All eyes will be on the court next week during what will be three days of historic arguments. These are very difficult issues. It's a very complex law, and it has divided judges in the lower courts, just as it has divided America.

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Recognizing his political future and legacy could well depend on the Supreme Court, the president is marking the two-year anniversary of the landmark law by releasing emotional web videos arguing his signature achievement is a success.

"Right now," he says in one, "you have choices about who's going to fight for you. Are we going to roll back healthcare that promises you having more security?"

When it passed, Vice President Biden was positively euphoric. He was caught by a microphone telling Mr. Obama, "This is a big f -- ing deal!"

But that's not how critics (and, according to a new poll, most Americans) view his health care legislation.

It remains a political lightning rod.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said flatly on the Senate floor, "It's time to repeal 'Obamacare.' "

The law is also a rallying cry for the Republican presidential candidates.

At one of the GOP presidential debates, Newt Gingrich said, "Every person up here (on the stage) understands 'Obamacare' is a disaster."

On the stump, Mitt Romney has said, "If I'm president, I'll repeal 'Obamacare' and return rights to our people."

And Rick Santorum contended to a crowd that the law is "a threat to the very essence of who America is."

It's also a law a majority of Americans have never supported. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 52 percent oppose the law; 41 percent approve. And 67 percent think the Supreme Court should either strike it down completely, or at least repeal the part that requires them to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

That's the big issue before the justices. Twenty-six states and a small business group are arguing that the law is unconstitutional - that the federal government can't force you to buy insurance any more than they can force you to buy broccoli.

That argument has struck a chord with conservatives. And opposition to the law is one of the issues Republicans hope will help them win the White House and control of Congress.

Critics continue to rally the opposition: More than $262 million has been spent on health care issue ads since the bill became law - with negative ads out-spending positive three-to-one.

One such ad says, "Politicians, get it right this time - repeal 'Obamacare' now!"

Despite all that, Democrats are confident of their chances in the court. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "We knew what we were doing when we passed this bill. It is ironclad, constitutionally."

But there are others, including some judges in lower courts, who disagree. They've ruled it unconstitutional.

People on both sides can argue about all this till the cows come home. But it is the Supreme Court that will have the final say and decide this.

To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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