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On the same day that a national survey showed a majority of Americans and independent voters now back the idea of an individual mandate to purchase health insurance, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to the Obama administration’s request for expedited review of the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law that faces a litany of challenges from Republican attorneys general and conservative groups, setting up a showdown that will likely determine the reform’s fate between March and June of next year.

Fresh off a conservative U.S. appeals court led by a Ronald Reagan appointee deciding that the legislation’s requirement for essentially all Americans to purchase health insurance is a legitimate exercise of congressional power, the nine-member high court has effectively decided to wade into the 2012 presidential campaign.

CNN released a poll showing a majority of Americans — and independent voters — now support the idea of requiring people to purchase health insurance, perhaps (ironically) because Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has been plugging it at the state level in nationally-televised debates and interviews.

With Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife actively participating in the Tea Party, and Justice Elena Kagan having served as Obama’s solicitor general in 2009 and 2010, the potential for one or more justices to recuse themselves makes the case that much more interesting.

What’s more, the timing could not have been worse for Justices Antonin Scalia and Thomas, who spoke just the other day at a conservative legal event funded in part by one of the firms hoping to wipe out the new law.

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