WASHINGTON (CNN) -- High drama at the high court. The Supreme Court on Monday kicked off three days of arguments for and against President Obama's controversial health care reform law.
After two years of anticipation, a blockbuster debate steps up to the Supreme Court. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says, "The Supreme Court has to do the right thing and rule this thing unconstitutional." Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey says, "I think this law is going to be upheld. It's gonna help a lot of people and help our country."
The high court on Monday opened six hours of arguments on President Obama's 2010 health care reform law. First up, whether the court should even be discussing this right now.
If the law's individual mandate is found to amount to a "tax," legal challenges would be halted until actual penalties are imposed in 2014.
Justice Steven Breyer says, "This is not in the Internal Revenue Code 'but for purposes of collection.' And so why is this a tax? All this talk about tax penalty - it is all beside the point because this suit is not challenging the penalty. This is a suit that is challenging the `must-buy' provision."
Arguments amounted to about 90 minutes, but outside, opinions were voiced throughout the day. An appearance by Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum served as dramatic evidence of the high election year stakes. He says, "President Obama did follow Mitt Romney's lead and adopted, as David Plouffe said yesterday, the blueprint for Obamacare, which was Romneycare."
Tuesday's arguments will focus on the overall question of the individual mandate, whether the government can constitutionally require Americans to buy a product like health insurance.
The Supreme Court is not expected to issue a ruling until June.