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Justices Question Obamacare Mandate
The Associated Press | March 27, 2012 | 01:08 PM EDT

Sharp questioning by the Supreme Court's conservative justices has cast serious doubt on the survival of the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.

Arguments at the high court Tuesday focused on whether the insurance requirement "is a step beyond what our cases allow," in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He and Chief Justice John Roberts are emerging as the seemingly pivotal votes.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito appeared likely to join with Justice Clarence Thomas to vote to strike down the key provision. The four Democratic appointees seemed ready to vote to uphold it.

The conservatives questioned whether the government can force Americans to carry health insurance, wondering in arguments over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul if Congress might next force people to buy broccoli or burial insurance.

"If the government can do that, what else can it" do? asked Scalia, referring to the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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