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At Supreme Court: Health Care Ruling Still Too Close To Call?

Here's some of the early word about today's Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of the nation's new health care overhaul law:

-- Five Justices Were Tough: Five members of the court "beat him up pretty hard," NPR's Nina Totenberg says of how the justices treated the counsel representing the government. But she also says, "I don't think you can call this," when asked about whether the court will or won't strike down the so-called individual mandate in the law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy "seem to be in play," Nina reports.

-- "Conservative Justices Challenge Government," by The Wall Street Journal. "The Supreme Court's five conservative justices on Tuesday sharply challenged the Obama administration's arguments for the health-care law, with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying the government has a 'very heavy burden of justification' for the measure's requirement that people carry health insurance or pay a penalty."

-- "High Court Justices Appear Split On Insurance Mandate," from our Shots blog. "The U.S. Supreme Court's justices appeared split on whether the federal government can force people to buy health insurance. The court's conservatives appeared skeptical and unmoved by the government's arguments in favor of the mandate."

-- "It Will Be Close. Very Close," by SCOTUSBlog. "After pressing the government with great questions [Justice Anthony] Kennedy raised the possibility that the plaintiffs were right that the mandate was a unique effort to force people into commerce to subsidize health insurance but the insurance market may be unique enough to justify that unusual treatment. But he didn't overtly embrace that. It will be close. Very close."

-- "Justices Signal Possible Trouble For Health Insurance Mandate," by theLos Angeles Times. "The Supreme Court's conservative justices Tuesday laid into the requirement in the Obama administration's healthcare law that Americans have health insurance, as the court began a much-anticipated second day of arguments on the controversial legislation."

As Nina reported earlier on Morning Edition, the words' "health care mandate" do not actually appear in the law.

Reminder: Our friends at the Shots blog are taking the lead on rounding up NPR's coverage, which is also packaged here.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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