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First up for the Supreme Court: deciding if it can rule on health care reform

U.S. Supreme Court

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Essentially the question before the court today was on an 1867 law barring lawsuits against a federal tax law until that tax took effect.

"Here, they did not use that word tax," liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said, referring both to lawmakers who crafted the legislation in Congress and to their intent.

Another liberal Democratic appointee to the high court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also expressed skepticism. "This is not a revenue-raising measure," she said.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia was also among those justices who suggested by his questions that allowing the case to go forward would not broadly undercut federal tax policy.

"There will be no parade of horribles," he said, noting that lower court judges would be able to determine when to make exceptions to the usual rules governing general tax penalties and law.

Tomorrow’s arguments revolve around the individual mandate, the most pressing matter before the court.

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