Johnson on health care overhaul: 'This is the reason I ran for (US Senate)'

Johnson on health care overhaul: 'This is the reason I ran for (US Senate)'

By Matt Montgomery & The Associated Press. CREATED Mar 26, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar 26, 2012

WASHINGTON- Supreme Court justices signaled on Monday they are ready to confront without delay the keep-or-kill questions at the heart of challenges to President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.

On the first of three days of arguments -- the longest in decades -- none of the justices appeared to embrace the contention that it was too soon for a decision. 

U.S Senator Ron Johnson was in courtroom Monday and joined Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure to talk about Monday's events.

"It was a very historic day," said Senator Johnson, referring to the packed, respectful courtroom and demonstrators on both sides outside the courtroom.  

Senator Johnson said the opening arguments were quite complicated in terms of the court's role in the case; if the case is being seen as a tax or penalty.  "I would think it is already decided that it (the Supreme Court) wants to hear the merits of the other issues, or they wouldn't have taken up the case to begin with," said Senator Johnson.

"This is the reason I ran (for US Senate)," said Mr. Johnson.  "I truly believe the passage of this law is the greatest single assault on freedoms in my lifetime." 

Senator Johnson went on to argue the health care overhaul is unprecedented and the last limit on federal power.  "If the federal government can tell you to do something, force you to buy a product that you don't want to buy.  I don't know what limits on federal power there would be remaining," said Senator Johnson.

Cameras were allowed into the courtroom on Monday and Senator Johnson said it's good to open up the process to the American people, but could see members of Congress playing up to TV audiences.

Tuesday's arguments will focus on the heart of the case, the provision that aims to extend medical insurance to 30 million more Americans by requiring everyone to carry insurance or pay a penalty.

A decision is expected by late June as Obama fights for re-election.  All of his Republican challengers oppose the law and promise its repeal if the high court hasn't struck it down in the meantime.