THE SUPREMES rarely are afforded the attention showered upon them last week during oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Those paying close attention received a riveting, brainteaser of a civics lesson over three extraordinary days.
The razor-sharp minds sitting on the United States Supreme Court cut deftly to the chase. Splitting the atom of nebulous words, punctuation and abstract jurisprudential theories, they pierced the heart of heretofore imagined impregnable arguments from both sides.
For the 6 men and 3 women commanding the room and guarding the Constitution, it was child‚??s play.
Whatever the outcome of this most meaningful case, it was a virtuoso performance by a tribunal whose members at various points in time were deemed worthy of a lifetime appointment to our court of last resort.
The attorneys arguing both sides of the landmark health insurance law, approved by Congress and the president in 2010, are among the finest in the land. They had to be.
Standing center ring ‚?? alone ‚?? before the Supreme Court, with so much at stake, fielding a nonstop array of theoretical and simultaneously pedantic constitutional queries laced with intellectual jabs, learned monologues, crushing didactic body blows and wonderful humor, effortlessly delivered by 8 of 9 Justices (Judge Clarence Thomas hasn‚??t said a word during oral arguments in 5 years) these barristers had to be ‚??the quill.‚?Ě
On average, during a 60-minute oral argument the Supreme Court poses 130 perplexing constitutional questions rapid-fire and aimed squarely at the lawyer courageous enough to absorb their best shots.
Sixty minutes is all they get, 30 for one side and 30 on the other. Last week the Supreme Court sat for 6 hours of argument on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
There are no cameras allowed inside the building. Take all the pictures and video you want outside, but you will check those accessories at the door.
There is, however, the remarkable and surprisingly entertaining audio recordings that ring as clear as a gavel and are posted publicly once there is a break in the action.
Yes, I listened to all 6 hours. Yes, I replayed a few. Yes, they are that good and no matter what side of the issue you come down on, you will come away from the experience murmuring ‚?Ľ ‚??What a country.‚?Ě
It matters little which side we favor. The Supreme Court will decide what, if anything, is incompatible with the supreme law of the land.
Last Sunday I predicted our conservative court will uphold the president‚??s health insurance law (Obamacare). You can locate that column online at www.timesleader.com in the Opinion section. Friends have already begun seasoning those words for my consumption sometime in late June.
Clearly, 5 of the 6 hours of oral argument did not go well for Americans hoping the health insurance reform law is ‚??constitutional.‚?Ě The 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court were ferocious in their pointed questions chipping away at the law‚??s underpinnings.
When the decision comes on pre-existing conditions, young adults without coverage remaining on their parents‚?? plan, Medicare prescription drug discounts for seniors in the ‚??donut-hole‚?Ě coverage gap and more, we will know if it was a just decision.
Very conservative appellate court judges have already upheld the law as it made its way to the Supreme Court. Will this court strike it down, and all that goes with it, in another partisan 5-to-4 decision? I think not. What is your opinion?
Go to C-SPAN www.c-span.org and listen to every minute of one of the most pivotal Supreme Court cases in our history. It is happening now and you will find it fascinating.