Health Law Centerpiece at Risk

High Court today hears argument against mandate for universal health coverage.

The Obama administration today will defend a requirement that Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty -- the core of the president’s health care overhaul -- in a Supreme Court case central to the Republican campaign to take over the White House.

A group of 26 states will say that Congress exceeded its authority in approving the mandate, as the justices hear their second of three days of arguments. The government, defending the president’s signature legislative victory, will contend that Congress can require people to buy insurance under its constitutional power to regulate the interstate health-care market.

Ready to Rule

Justices including Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested they didn’t view an 1867 law as barring them from ruling this year. Ginsburg questioned whether health-care penalties would be taxes.

Forced Buying

The challengers say Congress has never before required people to purchase something.

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