While this week's Supreme Court hearings left many Democrats apprehensive that the justices will overturn President Obama's landmark health care law, Gov. Martin O'Malley remains an optimist.

The governor said that after reading over transcripts of the hearings, at which Republican-appointed justices expressed deep skepticism about the constitutionality of the law, he's not at all sure that they're poised to strike it down in whole or in part.

"I think they're going to affirm it," he said.

He said he heard no effective answer to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's question of why the Congress couldn't regulate health care under the Constitution's commerce clause if it could set up the Social Security system. The governor also found some hope in the comments of Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Republicans are counting on to lead a 5-4 majority in striking down the law.

Referring to the dispute over the law's mandate that individuals carry health car insurance as of 2014, O'Malley noted that Maryland has its own form of a personal mandate in its requirement that drivers carry auto insurance.

O'Malley admitted he doesn't know what would happen next if the law is invalidated. But he said that if it is left to the state's to craft their own health care insurance systems, Maryland would likely be in the forefront.

"We have to find a way forward and the merits of the situation are such that by being a leader, Maryland will ultimately capture a competitive advantage," he said.

O'Malley said he expected the states that are willing to adopt health care reform would  partner with the federal government to extend universal health care benefits to all their citizens.