Ted Frank tweeted something brilliant at us this weekend. A law professor and blogger, Kyle Graham, was digging through documents at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Side note: if you’ve never been to a presidential library, go; all the ones I’ve been to are excellent.) Professor Graham came across a great find: the vetting form that O’Melveny & Myers chairman A.B. Culvahouse used to vet Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The document is fascinating. Vetting somebody for a lifetime appointment is serious business, but it’s hard to imagine having your private life invaded to this magnitude.
It’s particularly interesting in light of Chief Justice John Roberts’s vote in the Obamacare case. Lots of people have asked why conservatives seem to have problems nominating justices who will doggedly toe the ideological line. Perhaps some answers can be found in the vetting document?
The individual mandate — er, tax — in the Affordable Care Act has been upheld. The President’s signature initiative survives. The reputation of the Court is untarnished. Chief Justice Roberts’s legacy as a steward of the Court’s institutional reputation is strengthened.
It’s a happy day for the Court, the President, and people who sometimes need health care. The opinion is bad news for Justice Kennedy (if Roberts will swing, who needs Kennedy?) and, I think, the belly dancers who were in front of the Court this morning (their political leanings aren’t as easy to discern as their midriffs).
But, of course, there was other action at the Court today. The Court affirmed a bedrock principle of our democracy — we have a right to lie. Sort of….
Permitting the Government to decree this speech to be a criminal offense would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable. That governmental power has no clear limiting principle.
* Really, Prometheus was the kind of movie that allows you to think “putting in some lawyers couldn’t have hurt.” [Point of Law]
* Republicans are just better at naming laws than Democrats. I don’t know why that is, but it is. [Recess Appointment]
* Stand your ground laws increase homicides. Tomorrow, the gun lobby will tell us that we need to arm ourselves because of the epidemic of people standing their ground and killing innocent, unarmed Americans who weren’t able to buy a gun. [WSJ Law Blog]
* I almost feel bad for Anthony Kennedy. Every objective indicator proves that he was wrong about what the impact of Citizens United would be, and every month brings a new opportunity to shame Kennedy again. [Election Law Blog]
* Do you take the Metro North home every day? Like Pete Campbell, you might need an apartment in the city. [Dealbreaker]
* Defense rests in Roger Clemens trial. I guess the jurors will have to go back to counting sheep in order to get their rest in. [NPR]
* A judge who meditated would freak me out. Especially if the judge meditated about how you shouldn’t judge people. [Underdog]
* Statistically speaking, with its current line up, the Supreme Court is the most conservative that it’s been since the 1930s. This chart makes even Justice Kennedy look conservative. [FiveThirtyEight / New York Times]
* And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust: earlier this week, Dewey lost an antitrust partner to Arent Fox. That brings the firm’s grand total of partner defections to 38. [Am Law Daily]
* Jerry Sandusky’s trial has been postponed until June to due to “logistical contingencies” — like a motion to dismiss all of his child sex abuse charges. Meh, it’s no big deal. Same verdict, different day. [Bloomberg]
* And on a similar note, Warren Jeffs tried — and failed — to appeal his child sex abuse conviction. Because apparently that’s what happens when you represent yourself in the hopes of overturning a life sentence. [CNN]
* Lindsay Lohan’s supervised probation has ended, and for the time being, her legal woes are over. When will she screw up again? I’m going to give her three months, and that’s being really generous. [Daily Telegraph]
Isn’t it funny that if you refuse to buy food, the government won’t force you to buy any — broccoli or otherwise? But when you show up at the hospital dying of starvation, the government will give you health care even if you haven’t paid for it.
Sorry, I know it’s foolish for me to inject 21st century policy concerns into Scalia’s 18th century hypothetical.
Obamacare supporters are still licking their wounds from getting smacked around by SCOTUS yesterday. I don’t know why anybody is surprised. You’ve got four staunchly conservative justices and one pretty conservative justice that gets called a “swing vote” because the Court has lurched so far to the right since he was appointed, and you’re going in front of them with a massive use of the interstate commerce power. You think they care that past precedents that they don’t agree with say they should uphold the law? You think they want to give Obama a victory any more than Republicans in Congress wanted to support the Republican approach to health care once Obama adopted it? This was always going to be an uphill battle with this Court.
That’s not Don Verrilli’s fault. People need to stop yelling at this man. No, he wasn’t as witty as Paul Clement. Do we really think that whether or not Anthony Kennedy wants us to have health care will turn on Verrilli’s ability to spit out a one-liner? If liberals want to blame somebody, it’s not Don Verrilli; blame the spineless way Congress and the President abandoned single-payer. That’s why we’re here folks. We sent Verrilli into a conservative lion’s den with a liberal piece of meat hanging around his neck, and now we’re criticizing the way he ran around, screaming for his life. That’s not right.
But anyway, that was yesterday and “reading the tea leaves” from oral arguments takes way more time than looking at the political agendas of each of the justices. Let’s move on to today’s arguments. The Court will consider whether the Affordable Care Act can survive if the Court strikes down the individual mandate part, and whether the expansion of Medicaid coverage amounts to government coercion….
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