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CNN Legal Expert on Today's Hearing: Obama Admin a 'Train Wreck,' Obamacare Likely Will be 'Struck Down


"All of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong." -- CNN analyst: "Looks like it's going to be struck down"... ..."All of the predictions...were wrong." NBC expert: The law is "in trouble" Scalia: "If the government can do this, what else can it ... do?” Kennedy: "Are there any limits?" Listen: Full audio and transcript     ---

As Tuesday's hearing in front of the Supreme Court on Obamacare's individual mandate wraps up for the day, the buzz is that things are not looking good for the Obama administration.

"This was a train wreck for the Obama administration. This law looks like it's going to be struck down," Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN. "All of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong."

He continued: "The only conservative justice who looked like he might uphold the law was Chief Justice Roberts who asked hard questions of both sides, all four liberal justices tried as hard as they could to make the arguments in favor of the law, but they were -- they did not meet with their success with their colleagues."

He wasn't the only one. NBC's Pete Williams echoed that sentiment when he said the law was "in trouble":

"Sharp questioning by the Supreme Court's conservative justices has cast serious doubt on the survival of the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul," the Associated Press concludes.

The L.A. Times has some of the questions from inside the courtroom:

Even before the administration's top lawyer could get three minutes into his defense of the mandate, some justices accused the government of pushing for excessive authority to require Americans to buy anything.

"Are there any limits," asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three conservative justices whose votes are seen as crucial to the fate of the unprecedented insurance mandate.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the government might require Americans to buy cellphones to be ready for emergencies. And Justice Antonin Scalia asked if the government might require Americans to buy broccoli or automobiles.

"If the government can do this, what else can it ... do?” Scalia asked.

Much of the focus has been on Justice Anthony Kennedy, long considered the swing vote between the liberal and conservative factions on the bench. On Tuesday, he questioned whether the insurance requirement "is a step beyond what our cases allow." Still, while showing initial skepticism of the law, he later seemed to back down from that. Here's how the respected Supreme Court outlet SCOTUSblog puts it:

If Justice Anthony M. Kennedy can locate a limiting principle in the federal government’s defense of the new individual health insurance mandate, or can think of one on his own, the mandate may well survive.  If he does, he may take Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and a majority along with him.  But if he does not, the mandate is gone.  That is where Tuesday’s argument wound up — with Kennedy, after first displaying a very deep skepticism, leaving the impression that he might yet be the mandate’s savior.

He and Chief Justice John Roberts are emerging as the seemingly pivotal votes.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito appeared likely to join with Justice Clarence Thomas to vote to strike down the key provision. The four Democratic appointees seemed ready to vote to uphold it.

The founder of SCOTUSblog recapped the day's events with Megyn Kelly and said, “It was an extremely hard day for [the government]":

You can listen to the entire day's oral arguments below via the Oyez Project:

This is a breaking story. Updates will be added. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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