published Thursday, March 29th, 2012

White House: No contingencies for health care law

  • photo
    Amy Brighton from Medina, Ohio, who opposes health care reform, rallies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as the court continues arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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WASHINGTON — Voicing optimism, the White House on Wednesday said it is too early to devise contingency plans that anticipate the Supreme Court striking down any portion of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Separately, the White House says it has "every confidence" in the solicitor general's handling of the high court debate over the health care law.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that after three days of oral arguments before the court, the White House remained focused on enacting all the provisions of the law.

"If there is a reason or a need for us to consider some contingencies down the line, then we'll do it then," Earnest told reporters.

"There are a lot of different things that they could find, one way or the other," Earnest said of the nine justices, who are expected to rule on the 2010 law's constitutionality by the end of June. "We remain confident that they're going to find the entire thing constitutional."

Earnest faced a barrage of questions in the face of skepticism voiced by conservative justices that indicated that the law's key provision requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance was in jeopardy.

"Anybody who believes you can try to predict the outcome of the Supreme Court based solely on the questions of the justices is not a very good student of the Supreme Court," Earnest said, adding that conservative judges in a lower court were equally tough in their questions only to decide that the law was constitutional.

Earlier in the day, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler issued a statement saying Solicitor General Donald Verrilli has "ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court." Ruemmler praised Verrilli for his "keen judgment" and "unquestionable integrity."

Verrilli is the Obama administration's official representative before the Supreme Court. He's tasked with arguing in favor of a provision in the health care law that requires nearly every American to carry insurance, and he's faced tough questions from many of the justices about the constitutionality of the mandate.

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