With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on the constitutionality of President Obama’s national health care law by the end of the month, former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said today that he didn’t “give a damn” about the law’s individual mandate and that he hopes it gets “thrown out.”

Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate, made the remarks when speaking to liberal activists at the Take Back the American Dream Conference sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future.

One audience member said Obama did a “bad bad thing” by not pursuing a single-payer system in which government is the sole purchaser of health care and said activists needed to push for a single-payer system if the health care law is deemed unconstitutional.

Dean responded by saying that there were some things in the bill worth preserving that would help lead to “more of a unified system over time” such as the exchanges for individuals to purchase health insurance with government subsidies.

Then he added, “I don’t give a damn about the individual mandate. I think it was a foolish thing to do anyway, but then I hope it does get thrown out.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., amplified on Dean’s remarks, saying the overturning of the health care law would create an “opportunity” for the left to push single-payer.

“I wholeheartedly think that if this individual mandate gets thrown out, it is an opportunity for us to organize right away,” Ellison said. “We’ve got to go in, we’ve got to shape the debate right away, because the issue will be, ‘If not this, what?’ Well, the ‘what’ is single payer health care. We’ve got to prepare ourselves to literally pounce.”

He also cautioned liberals not to despair in the face of attacks from conservatives, and he blasted the Supreme Court for being controlled by the right.

“The right is going to try to beleaguer the left by saying, ‘See, you were unconstitutional and we were right all along,’” Ellison predicted. “And you cannot accept that nonsense. You gotta understand that this is the Supreme Court of Citizens United, Bush vs. Gore, and now this thing. And it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the right wing. We can’t look at what they do as necessarily the truth or any fair rendering. So let’s be ready to take maximum opportunity no matter what happens.”