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Public Still Mostly Hates Health Law With Supreme Court Ruling Just Weeks Off

If the Supreme Court follows the election returns, its members also no doubt pay attention to opinion polls.

Not that public opinion is the sole driver in the high court's decisions. But the justices certainly are aware of, say, the fact that Americans keep expressing their unhappiness with the Affordable Care Act.

The latest major poll, commissioned by CBS News/NY Times comes just weeks before the court is expected to deliver its ruling on the constitutionality of the health-care law. The survey found that nothing has happened to change the minds of a majority of the public that the law should be overturned.

An excerpt from CBS News:

In the poll released on Thursday, 41 percent of those polled think Mr. Obama's health care law should be overturned completely by the Supreme Court, with another 27 percent of respondents saying they want the court to keep the law but overturn the mandate.

Nearly one-quarter - twenty-four percent - of respondents want the entire law upheld. The margin of error is three percentage points.

The percentage that wants to see the entire law abolished is up slightly since April, when 37 percent said they wanted the court to overturn the full law, 29 percent said only the mandate should be overturned and 23 percent wanted the whole law upheld.

Of course, the court will render its decision based on the strength of legal arguments and the justices' interpretation of the Constitution. They wouldn't allow themselves to be swayed by popular opinion, would they?

Well, acccording to court watcher Dahlia Lithwick, they might. On NPR's On the Media program in March Lithwick, who covers the court for Slate, suggested public opinion could be a factor.

DAHLIA LITHWICK: If public opinion was strongly in favor of the Affordable Care Act, I don't think this law would be in question right now. But because public opinion has been so muddled – polls even this week suggest that some people like some parts of the law but most people don't like all of it – I think it might even embolden the Court to take that step of striking it down.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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