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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gestures during a press conference after a hearing before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on a challenge to the federal health care reform act in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, May 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals panel dominated by appointees of President Barack Obama heard arguments Tuesday in two Virginia lawsuits challenging his health care overhaul.

The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vigorously questioned lawyers on both sides, but the most spirited exchanges focused on the central issue in both cases: whether the law’s requirement that individuals buy insurance is constitutional. Federal judges in Virginia split on that question in the lawsuits, one filed by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and the other by Liberty University.

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