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Health care debate: Supreme Court wraps up 3-day arguments

The Supreme Court of the United States is shown in this undated file photo.

March 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The future for parts of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul remained uncertain in the Supreme Court on Wednesday following the conclusion of three-day long oral arguments.

On the final day of the debate, the justices turned to the issue of whether President Barack Obama's health care overhaul can survive if the crucial individual insurance requirement is struck down. They appeared to share the administration's view that at least two other provisions can't survive without the mandate, though they also indicated Tuesday that they might strike it down.

Twenty-six states are trying to get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tossed out in its entirety. Some justices, including Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Chief Justice John Roberts, seemed receptive to the idea that parts of the law can survive even if the court declares the key mandate unconstitutional.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the swing vote on cases that divide the justices along ideological lines, says the mandate is "a step beyond what our cases allow."

"The government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way," Kennedy said.

In an exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by SurveyUSA, 32 percent think the law is a good thing, 38 percent think it's a bad thing and 31 percent are not sure.

A final ruling on the health care law is expected in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.