After the hearing, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli defended his state's legal challenge, saying that "the federal government thinks it can tell states to disregard their own laws."
But Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond who signed a brief supporting the Obama administration, said he believes the three-judge panel didn't buy Cuccinelli's argument.
"Solicitor General Katyal encountered very little resistance to his argument that Virginia lacked standing to challenge the individual mandate," Walsh said, adding that he believes the government could win both cases.
Randy Barnett, a Georgetown University law professor who is representing challengers to the law in a separate case, said he isn't so sure.
"The panel asked tough questions on both sides, and as Judge Motz suggested this case will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court," he said.
Two other appellate courts will hear similar challenges to the law this spring. Court watchers believe the issue could reach the nation's highest court sometime during the term that begins in the fall of 2011.