Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

I respectfully request that the Court allow the American public the opportunity to learn contemporaneously or near-contemporaneously how it resolved one of the most significant issues to come before it in many years. I urge the Court to provide live audio and video coverage of its announcement in the same manner it provides delayed audio recordings of oral arguments. At the very least, I ask for release of such a recording immediately after the announcement.

– a letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press co-signed by 49 other media groups and addressed to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, imploring the Supreme Court to offer live audio access to the announcement of its opinion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act case (aka Obamacare).

(As noted by Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSblog, the chances of this request being granted are “remote to non-existent.”)

Justice Elena Kagan

Sounds like a dumb law.

– Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, commenting during her confirmation hearings on Senator Tom Coburn’s attempt to compare the Affordable Care Act to a hypothetical law requiring consumption of fruits and vegetables.

(Senator Coburn wondered if such a law would violate the Commerce Clause. In response, Kagan noted that “whether it’s a dumb law is different from … the question of whether it’s constitutional.”)

Most of the journalistic/legal world is on fire with excitement for the decision in the Affordable Care Act case. The New Yorker has a critical article on the not-yet-but-really-soon-to-be-issued decision and what it means for the Court. Time Magazine has a cover picture of Justice Kennedy — “The Decider” — a close-up so close you can see the lines in his bifocals. New York Magazine wrote about how frustrating it is that Supreme Court clerks don’t leak info so there would finally, for the love of all things holy, be something to report from the Court about the health care reform case.

Folks who don’t have press passes are also keyed up. I heard a rumor from one of my neighbors that the decision would come down this week! A friend of a friend told me that the health care reform case was in the bag for the conservatives. It’s like the finals in American Idol, but no one gets to text in their vote.

For weeks, the world has speculated and waited for an opinion. Each decision day for the past month the speculation has intensified. Each decision day a decision in Obamacare has not come.

What happened at One First Street today?

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If they overturn the whole thing, it’ll be like seeing your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your new Lexus.

Dr. Gerald Schall, an independent voter, speculating as to how the nation would react if the Supreme Court were to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Carter Phillips

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare overhaul last week, we discussed the case with veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin‘s Washington, D.C. office, is a renowned Supreme Court litigator. He has argued 75 cases in front of the high court, more than any other attorney in private practice.

Check out our conversation below. He had a lot of insightful comments about the performances of Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli, the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and even a few jokes…

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After a rough week, a near consensus has emerged that Obamacare has a murky future. Liberal pundits are reeling: Dahlia Lithwick is palpably depressed, and Jeffrey Toobin — so recently heard predicting that the ACA would be upheld by an 8-1 majority — is now characterizing the proceedings as a “train wreck for the Obama Administration, and it may also be a plane wreck.” On the other hand, Philip Klein of the avowedly right-wing Washington Examiner encapsulated the opposition’s mood of gleeful triumphalism when he tweeted, “Clement channeled Michael Jordan, Verrilli channeled Scott Norwood.” (But see: Elie’s lonely defense of the Solicitor General.)

Before the arguments commenced, we asked our readers for their opinions and predictions on the case: Will SCOTUS uphold the ACA? Should it? 1,100 of you weighed in.

After the jump, we’ll look at the results of our survey, and sample some representative reader comments. (Here is an example of a non-representative reader comment: “I hope the law is overturned. I am a Christian Scientist and have not been to the doctor in 40 years.”)

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* If Obamacare gets struck down, do you think insurance companies will allow children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26? My Magic 8-Ball says: “Outlook not so good.” [Wall Street Journal]

* There’s no crying in baseball bankruptcy sales! Which Biglaw firms hit a home run for playing a part in the sale of the LA Dodgers? Dewey & LeBoeuf, Foley & Lardner, and Sullivan & Cromwell. [Am Law Daily]

* “Just because you wear a hoodie does not make you a hoodlum.” But a hoodie will definitely prevent you from being recognized on the House floor. Just ask Congressman Bobby Rush. [New York Post]

* Things you can’t do on an airplane? Have a mid-flight nutty. Pilot Clayton Osbon has been criminally charged for his erratic form of in-flight entertainment, and he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. [Reuters]

* Guess who’s allegedly been infringing upon a high-end fashion house’s trademarks to the tune of $124M? Gucci was in court yesterday to accuse Guess of engaging in a massive “knock off” scheme. [Bloomberg]

Justice Antonin Scalia

My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute, the statute’s gone.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting on what might happen to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the individual mandate were struck down as unconstitutional by the Court.

(How open is Justice Scalia to reviewing the particular provisions of Obamacare to decide which provisions should stand and which should fall? Let’s find out….)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Shot Through the Heart / And Congress Is to Blame / You Give Obamacare a Bad Name”

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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Today was the big day: the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s always fun when nine unelected people get to decide whether Congress and the president get to do what the American people elected them to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been listening to CSPAN 3 take calls from “real” Americans about the constitutionality of health care, and let me tell you: Americans are incredibly stupid. On both sides. Christ on Phonics, I don’t even know if some of these people are able to read. Nine unelected arbiters looking at this is at least as legitimate as millions of freaking idiots having a clap-off to figure out how to administer health coverage for millions of people.

Did I say nine people will decide this issue? That’s not entirely accurate, is it? Aren’t we really talking about one guy?

They’re replaying the audio from today’s arguments on CSPAN 3. Too bad there’s no video… I want to see the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Paul Clement brought for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But what’s really interesting today is to see whether all these ideologically conservative judges will actually take a conservative judicial approach and show deference to the legislature.

Not that I’m holding my breath….

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