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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who filed a lawsuit for the state against the federal health care bill, told reporters  Monday that he expects Tuesday’s arguments to be the pivotal ones in the U.S. Supreme Court debate.

Tuesday, the court will hear arguments on whether the bill’s “individual mandate”—the provision requiring  people to buy insurance—is constitutional.

Opponents, including Cuccinelli, have argued that it is not—that the government has overstepped by requiring individuals to purchase a product.

“Tomorrow is the heart of the case,” Cuccinelli said Monday. “Whether the government’s power under the commerce clause, the power to regulate interstate commerce, extends so far that they can compel you and I to buy a product, in other words compel us into commerce  They have never supposed themselves to have this power before.”

Like other analysts, Cuccinelli’s impression of the justices’ reactions and questioning during Monday’s arguments was that they will let the case move forward, and are not likely to feel that a tax law more than a century old should stop it.

That law, the Anti-Injunction Act, says that people can’t sue to stop tax laws until they’ve paid the tax.

 In this case, that would postpone lawsuits until 2015, since the penalties of the health care law don’t take effect until 2014.

Attorneys for both sides in this case  argued on Monday that the anti-injunction law shouldn’t apply here, and Cuccinelli said it would be “monumental” if justices disagreed, given the ramifications of delaying the case for three years.

Based on questions justices asked, Cuccinelli said, he doubts the justices will apply the anti-injunction law.

He particularly noted questions from Justice Elena Kagan, who asked if a person who declined to buy insurance and then paid the penalty would have violated federal law. That could be important in instances such as people who are on parole or probation and not breaking the law is a condition of their probation.

Chelyen Davis:  804/343-2245