Protesters, including a man in a monkey suit, gather at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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.

See also: Court: What’s Left of Health Law Without Mandate?

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, liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, too — seemed open to the idea that the wide-ranging law contains provisions that can be saved — even if the requirement that Americans carry health insurance or pay a penalty is struck down.

“The rest of the law cannot stand,” Clement told the justices.

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

Roberts noted the 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.

Ginsburg observed that the act deals with issues such as black lung disease.

“Why make Congress redo those?” she asked. “There are many things” that have “nothing to do with affordable health care.”

The Obama administration argues that the only other provisions the court should kill in the event the mandate is stricken are revisions that require insurers to cover people regardless of existing medical problems and limit how much the companies can charge in premiums based on a person’s age or health.

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Associated Press writers Jesse J. Holland and Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.

 

For up-to-the-minute coverage of the Supreme Court hearing of PPACA, visit www.lifehealthpro.com/PPACA