Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My read on the SCOTUS justices

I have read the transcripts.  If you have an interest in Constitutional law or the healthcare debate I recommend that you do so, as well.  I definitely think the individual mandate is toast.  Too many pointed questions that are too good, not too esoteric or academic, and for which the Solicitor General had no good answer.  I also thought the "swing votes", and specifically Kennedy, seemed far to skeptical to turn around and issue and opinion upholding Obamacare as a legitimate exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause.  I also got the impression that, if any of the Justices cross over to join the "other" side, it may be Sotomayor.  Read the transcript pages starting at p. 21.  The colloquy between Justice Sotomayor and Solicitor General Verrilli is quite interesting.  It culminates on p. 23 where the Justice flat out asks Verrelli if Congress was forcing individuals into commerce and then asks if there are any limits to that power.  Those are the two themes that the conservative wing of the court has really hammered.  And she seems legitimately troubled by them.

I also recommend reading the Kennedy questioning beginning at p. 104.  His early and often hammering of Verrelli got a lot of play yesterday, and deservedly so.  However, this latter exchange with Michael Carvin representing a private business group opposing the law may be more instructive as to how Kennedy will vote. He seems so incensed by the counter arguments that he comes very close to breaking convention and telling counsel how he will rule.  When Carvin questions Congress's method of "regulating" by forcing people to buy health insurance, Justice Kennedy actually says, "I agree--I agree that is what is happening here."  He then goes on to point out that if the "uniqueness" of the healthcare market is grounds for allowing Congress to force people into that market, they could go on and say the same thing about any market in the world of commerce.  I would be very surprised if Kennedy supports upholding the individual mandate.

No comments: