The setting: The highest court in the land.
The date: Tuesday March 27, 2012.
Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., the Solicitor General of the United States strode to the podium to address nine justices, of whom at least five were going to be hostile to his defense of the use of the commerce clause to make health care legislation constitutional.
The courtroom was hushed. The moment historic. And Mr Verrilli.....stammered. Then he coughed. Then he cleared his throat. Then he grabbed his glass of water.
And within a few moments Justice Scalia pounced with the most favourite and tried and true argument in the arsenal of every conservative: "If the government can do this (the health care mandate) what can it not do?" Scalia thundered. Verrilli stammered. It was not pretty.
But the questions were not surprising. This was no ambush. Verrilli had to know the questions were coming, and yet he acted more like a first year moot court student who read the wrong problem rather than the SG of the US.
Chief Justice Earl Warren worked hard to engineer a 9-0 opinion, giving ground on several points to get Justice Frankfurter on board. What does it say about CJ Roberts that the very best outcome in case will be 6-3? This court, like this country is politically polarized and that is not good.
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays.
Some of us find our Stars in the most unlikely of places.
See You In Court.