Pence: Odds are on Supreme Court striking down healthcare reform

A top Republican said Friday that he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down key parts of the new healthcare reform law as unconstitutional.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the third-ranking House Republican, who serves as conference chairman, said he saw enough votes on the high court to strike a blow to President Obama's signature domestic initiative.

"It's going to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court's going to decide whether or not the Constitution of the United States permits the government to order the American people to purchase goods or services, whether they want them or need them or not," Pence said Friday on WLS radio in Indiana.

The Indiana lawmaker, and potential 2012 presidential candidate, has been among the crowd of Republicans to question whether a central part of Democrats' healthcare reform bill is constitutional. The crux of their argument is that the individual mandate — the section of the law requiring individuals to have health insurance of some sort — violates the Constitution.

A federal judge in Michigan dismissed a major case on Thursday challenging the healthcare law's constitutionality on that grounding, though other lawsuits are still being litigated in other federal districts. If courts in different areas of the country end up issuing different rulings, it could heighten the chances that the Supreme Court would take the case.

If it gets to that point, Pence said, he could envision five of the court's member voting to rule the bill unconstitutional.

"I rather like our chances when this thing gets to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "I think there could be a narrow majority on the court that recognizes that you cannot compel the American people to purchase health insurance just as a function of being an American citizen."