Some justices seem open to saving parts of law

MARK SHERMAN PETE YOST Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several Supreme Court justices seemed receptive Wednesday to the idea that portions of President Barack Obama's health care law can survive even if the court declares the centerpiece unconstitutional.

On the third and last day of arguments, the justices seemed skeptical of the position taken by Paul Clement, a lawyer for 26 states seeking to have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act tossed out in its entirety.

In their questions, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- and even conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia -- seemed open to the idea that the wide-ranging law contains provisions that can be saved -- even if the mandate for Americans to have health insurance is struck down.

"The rest of the law cannot stand," Clement told the justices, speaking for the Obama administration.

"What's wrong with leaving this in the hands of those who should be fixing this?" asked Sotomayor, referring to Congress.

Roberts noted the far-reaching changes in the law besides the insurance mandate.

Many of the provisions "have nothing to do with any of the things we are" talking about, the chief justice said.