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.
Las Vegas hasn’t posted odds on whether the Supreme Court will reject health care reform. But the American Bar Association has done the next best thing. As part of a special publication devoted to the case, the ABA surveyed a group of veteran observers and asked them to predict the outcome. The results? Eighty-five percent predicted that the court will uphold the law. The ABA won’t say how it picked the experts; it promised anonymity to guarantee candor. So make of the results what you will. But those experts seem to part of a broader consensus.
Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down the most important privacy case of the Roberts era, U.S. v. Jones. The unanimous decision is an occasion for dancing in the chat rooms. In holding that the government needs a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s car to track his movements 24/7 for a month, all the justices rejected the Obama administration’s extreme and unnecessary position that we have no expectations of privacy when it comes to the virtual surveillance of our movements in public places.
Yale Literature professor David Bromwich has a column in the Huffington Post that's primarily an attempt to push the meme "Bush-Obama Presidency." It does persuasively argue that President Obama has continued many of President Bush's policies in foreign affairs.
The Supreme Court has included good writers and bad writers during the past two centuries, but the literarily challenged justices have always had a comfortable majority. In the Court’s early days, one of its clumsiest writers was Samuel Chase, who, in addition to being impeached for excessive partisanship, had a weakness for random italics.
The margins for confirming Supreme Court Justices are getting tighter: Though it confirmed her Thursday as the newest justice by a 63-37 vote, Kagan has the dubious distinction of receiving one of the lowest total of “yes” votes for a nominee during the past three presidencies — and the lowest number of confirmation votes ever for a justice picked by a Democrat. Kagan’s meager tally is five fewer than Sonia Sotomayor last year, 15 fewer than John Roberts got in 2005 and pales in comparison to the 96-3 coronation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993.
I have a soft spot for bluntly transactional politicians. I like Mitt Romney because, even though he pretends to hold principles,the pretense is so transparent it's barely different than simply admitting he'll say anything to get elected. Charlie Crist, who's veering sharply leftward in an attempt to win a Senate election, is becoming another favorite: Mr. Crist has made other policy shifts. Despite pledging as a Republican to help repeal President Obama's health-care overhaul, Mr. Crist now says he does not support such a move.