Updated 03/27/2012 01:07 PM
Main challenge to health care law argued in Supreme Court
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether the government can force people to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under President Obama's health care overhaul.
The more conservative justices along with Justice Anthony Kennedy - who is considered a swing vote, questioned whether Congress can force people to buy not just insurance, but other items, which critics were hoping for.
The 26 states challenging the law say Congress overstepped its boundaries because it didn't regulate commerce, which it's entitled to do under the Constitution. Instead, they argue it created commerce, forcing people to buy something that they might not have had before.
The Obama administration reportedly argued that the mandate does not require people to purchase health care, but instead merely regulates when and how they will pay for that care.
"We believe that the Constitution means something. We believe that the action Congress took was at its very basis unconstitutional and we are calling on the court today to declare this law unconstitutional," said Rep. Michelle Bachmann.
In the first day of arguments Monday, the justices considered whether it was premature for them to rule on the case, since the part of the law imposing a penalty for not having insurance has not taken effect.
Much of the day's talk centered on whether that controversial part of the law counts as a tax or a penalty.
After considering the individual mandate on Tuesday, justices will hear arguments Wednesday on whether the rest of the law can take effect even if the mandate is declared unconstitutional.
A court decision is expected to be announced in late June.