Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen ...

the end of the Supreme Court.
Justice Antonin Scalia cut in when Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said the justices would need to look at “the structure and the text” of the 2,700-page [ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act].

“Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment?” Scalia asked — a joking reference to the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. “You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?

“And do you really expect the court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?"

Taking a swipe at the court’s textualists, Justice Elena Kagan said the court could dispense with the legislative history and “look at the text that’s actually given us.”
“For some people, we look only at the text,” she said. “It should be easy for Justice Scalia's clerks.”

“I don't care whether it's easy for my clerks,” Scalia said to laughs. “I care whether it's easy for me.”
Given that Needler was arguing the merits of a law that provides health insurance -- and access to lifesaving healthcare -- to millions of Americans who otherwise would not have it, it might not have been prudent for him to answer Justice Scalia's question the way he would have liked. But, given that I am just an average American citizen and not burdened with that responsibility, perhaps I can enlighten Scalia about the expectations of average Americans like myself:

YES! When the Supreme Court hears a case, I do expect you to be fully aware of all the relevant issues. If that means reading every word of a 2,700-page document, that's OK with me. Your job as a Supreme Court justice carries an incredible amount of responsibility, and the Court's decisions affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people and alters the course of our nation.

In exchange for that taking on that awesome responsibility, you are compensated more than adeqautely, at more than $200,000 per year, placing you comfortably within the top 5 percent of American wage earners. And, with your lifetime appointment, you also have unprecedented job security at a time when the term "job security" is, for many people, becoming an oxymoron.

I also expect you to judge cases based on their constitutional merit, leaving your personal political beliefs at the courthouse door. We wouldn't want judges on the top court in the land "legislating from the bench" now, would we?

So yeah, I expect you to read every word on every page of the 2,700-page PPACA. It's your job. And given the fabulous wage and benefits package you receive, I don't care whether it's easy for you.

It's hard to believe that a Supreme Court justice asked an attorney arguing before the Court if the attorney expects him to read the law they are talking about. Are you fucking kidding me?

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