By Sam Baker - 03/26/12 05:55 PM EDT
The Supreme Court on Monday seemed to be leaning against a procedural ruling that would postpone a decision until after 2014 on whether the healthcare reform law is unconstitutional.
Monday’s session, which launched three days of oral arguments in the case, also highlighted a potential weakness in the Obama administration’s defense of the healthcare law’s mandate that people buy insurance.
But in urging that the justices should not postpone a decision until the mandate takes effect, sometime after 2014, the administration has had to argue that the mandate is not a tax.
Justice Samuel Alito raised the issue as Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. argued Monday that the fine is a not a tax.
"Today you're arguing that the penalty is not a tax," said Alito. “Tomorrow you’re going to be back, and you’re going to be arguing that the penalty is a tax."