Paul Clement

You shouldn't read too much into John Roberts's recent display of jurisprudence.

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AT THE END OF MARCH, when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli appeared before the Supreme Court to make the case for the Affordable Care Act, he was widely perceived to have choked. When he approached the podium in the packed courtroom, the stakes could not have been higher. Verrilli was defending the Obama administration’s central domestic achievement, a reform that had consumed the White House for the better part of the president’s first term.

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Following yesterday’s oral arguments, the early consensus among Supreme Court–watchers is that the conservative justices will band together to uphold at least some core provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. One would hope that any such decision would be rooted in a strong understanding of the issues at stake. Unfortunately, after attending yesterday’s oral arguments, I’m not sure that the leader of the Court’s conservative bloc—Antonin Scalia—has a very sound grasp of our country’s immigration policies.  The question before the Court is whether S.B.

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At the conclusion of yesterday’s oral arguments in Arizona v. U.S., the case that will decide the fate of Arizona law SB 1070, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Thank you, Mr. Clement, General Verrilli.

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Everybody is down on Solicitor General Don Verrilli, who presented the government’s case for the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court last week. And everybody is up on attorney former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who argued on behalf of the states challenging the law. But the attorney who impressed me last week was one that almost nobody seems to have noticed: H. Bartow Farr. Who is Farr?

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As Tuesday’s oral argument on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate came to a close, several commentators faulted Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s performance. Particularly harsh was CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, who called the two hour argument “a train wreck for the Obama Administration.” But having sat through the oral argument and re-read the transcript, I have to dissent. Especially on paper, Verrilli’s performance appears quite strong—and possibly more effective than that of his opponents, Michael Carvin and the justly renowned Paul Clement. Here’s why.

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The hearings are over, finally. The afternoon argument, over the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, was as contentious as the rest -- with the justices giving both the government and the states challenging the law extra time to make their arguments.  This time, the liberals wasted no time in pressing Paul Clement, attorney for the 26 states, about his assertion that the law's expansion of Medicaid for the states was coercive.

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If there was one thing of which I was certain going into this week’s Supreme Court hearings, it was that, at worst, the justices would strike down the individual mandate and related coverage positions. In other words, they’d get rid of requirements that insurers cover everybody at a uniform price, on the theory those reforms don’t work without the mandate.

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My first impression from day two at the Supreme Court: I was more confident yesterday than I am today. With the caveat that I know health policy a lot better than I know law, I can still imagine the justices upholding the individual mandate. But, at this point, I can just as easily imagine them striking it down.  Tuesday's hearing was energized and contentious, from start to finish. But while the justices hammered lawyers from both sides with difficult questions, Solicitor General Don Verrilli seemed to struggle more than Paul Clement, attorney for the states.

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[Guest post by Simon Lazarus] As summarized one month ago in a post here on Jonathan Chait’s blog, conservatives reacted with fury to an article I wrote for Slate in which I pointed out that two major components of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future closely resemble the much-demonized “individual mandate” in the Affordable Care Act.

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