EDITOR'S NOTE _ This is part of a weeklong package of stories previewing the Supreme Court's consideration of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.

MARK SHERMAN Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Here's a thought that can't comfort President Barack Obama: The fate of his health care overhaul rests with four Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices.

The law could be struck down if they stand together with Justice Clarence Thomas, another GOP appointee who is the likeliest vote against.

The good news for Obama is that he probably needs only one of the four to side with him to win approval of the law's crucial centerpiece -- the requirement that almost everyone has insurance or pays a penalty.

Lawyers with opposing views of the issue uniformly agree that the four Democratic-appointed justices will have no trouble concluding that Congress did not overstep its authority in adopting the insurance requirement that is aimed at sharply reducing the now 50 million people without insurance.