4:43 p.m. With their work complete, the justices can now begin their three-month summer break. Where are they headed? Blooomberg Law has a full report:
3:44 p.m. Republicans in states that sued to overturn the health care law now have a difficult choice, Bloomberg News reports:
If the states go along with an expansion of the Medicaid program, they get federal money that covers the bulk of the costs. In doing so, they would also have to embrace a portion of a law that they rejected as unconstitutional or too costly.
The law was designed to open the state-run program to an estimated 17 million low-income Americans by forcing states to reduce income limits for those who can qualify. The court modified the measure by saying the federal government can’t threaten to withhold existing money from states that don’t fully comply with the Medicaid expansion.
3:31 p.m. Bloomberg News’ Kate Andersen Brower has an inside look at how President Obama found out about today’s decisions:
According to an administration official who briefed reporters, Obama was standing in what is known as the “outer oval,” a small room outside the Oval office, and stood watching four cable news stations on a single split screen. At first he saw the erroneous reports that his signature legislative achievement was knocked down. According to another official. he had a “quizzical” look on his face but remained calm. CNN and Fox mistakenly initially reported the rule had been struck down.
Two minutes later, Obama’s White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler walked into the outer oval, game him two thumbs up and told him it was upheld. White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew was also there.
Obama smiled and hugged Ruemmler — trusting her over the false reports.
3:15 p.m. The knives are coming out for Chief Justice John Roberts in the conservative precincts of the blogosphere, Marketwatch reports.
At web sites such as Redstate, Free Republic and National Review, many commentators accused Roberts of caving in to liberal pressure and being a traitor to the conservative cause. They worry he’ll turn into another David Souter, a Republican judge who became liberal after joining the high court.
3:12 p.m. NPR rounds up the reactions of legal scholars, which are best summarized by the phrase: “many people were stunned.”
3:01 p.m. Businessweek’s Paul Barrett, who covered John Roberts when Roberts was deputy solicitor general in the administration of George H.W. Bush, writes that the Roberts of today’s decision is the Roberts he knew back at the Department of Justice:
Roberts pushed the health overhaul back into the political arena: across the street to Congress and down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. He did lead the court in limiting the ACA’s extension of the Medicaid program for the poor by saying that the federal government can’t threaten to withhold existing money from states that don’t fully comply with federal rules. His conclusions about the limits of congressional authority under the Commerce Clause will make lawmakers think more carefully about exercising that muscle in the future. And he has pulled the court back to the periphery of what will be a heated clash between Obama and Romney over whether and how to extend insurance coverage to the tens of millions on Americans who currently lack it.
2:30 p.m. SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein sees a ray of sunshine in today’s decision for conservatives. The court’s ruling on Medicaid eligibility may have given states rights advocates an opportunity to challenge other statutes, he says. The court found that Congress can’t take away all of a state’s federal Medicaid money if they do not comply with the health care law’s conditions. Tying compliance under one statute to the loss of other, unrelated money is a frequent technique Congress uses, Goldstein tells Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck. “The net, long-term historic effect may be, ironically, very pro states rights,” Goldstein says.
2:20 p.m. CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin attracted a lot of attention during the oral arguments when he said “This was a train wreck for the Obama Administration.”
But today he “announced apologetically on CNN that it was ‘a day for me to eat a bit of crow,’” Politico reports. “The same accountablity we demand of others we should demand of ourselves: I acknowledge that I got it wrong,” he said. “I was highly critical of Verrilli’s argument, and Verrilli’s argument won the case.”
2:14 p.m. A number of legislators — both Democrats and Republicans — also tweeted before they had a correct understanding of the court’s ruling. National Journal archived the tweets.
2:11 p.m. Both CNN and Fox News repeatedly botched their reporting of the court’s ruling, saying the individual mandate had been struck down. Politico has the video evidence.
2:03 p.m. In an online poll that has garnered more than 140,000 votes so far, MSNBC is finding a largely supportive public reaction to today’s ruling. Asked “Do you agree with this ruling?” respondents replied:
- 58%: Yes. Roberts provides a rational, nuanced decision in upholding the law.
- 38.6%: No. The reasoning in this decision is fractured and incorrect.
- 3.4%: I don’t know. I’ll have to read the whole decision, along with the concurring and dissenting decisions, before I decide myself.
1:44 p.m. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that the health care reform law the Supreme Court upheld is a “job killer ” he will repeal and replace.
1:39 p.m. President Obama said the country can’t afford to refight the political battles of two years ago:
1:21 p.m. After oral arguments, most experts were predicting the court would invalidate the individual mandate. But experts from Bloomberg Industries, Bloomberg Government and Bloomberg View all called the decision correctly in a program taped days after the March arguments. Bloomberg View’s Paula Dwyer went so far as to predict it would be a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the majority:
1:07 p.m. A look behind the scenes of President Obama’s East Room remarks on health care, from Bloomberg News’ Kate Andersen Brower:
Reporters were told not to bring any communications devices into the East Room.
Aside from cameras and TV producers only five reporters, who make up the so-called pool, were allowed in: Bloomberg, the AP, Reuters, AFP, and a rotating representative from a print outlet. Reporters sat on gold chairs approximately 25 feet from the podium where Obama spoke.
Administration officials sat on the opposite side of the room, including White House press secretary Jay Carney, Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. At the end of the president’s remarks some of the officials patted each other on the back and smiled.
Normally when the president speaks at the White House reporters are standing and allowed to bring recorders, blackberries and cell phones. And occasionally shout a question. Today the president’s announcement was done in a setting akin to when he told the nation that Osama bin Laden was dead.
1:00 p.m. Those who were inside the courtroom this morning — including Bloomberg News’ Bill McQuillen — may think that Chief Justice Roberts pulled a bait-and-switch. McQuillen’s report:
Among the last people to know the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the core of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul may have been the actual spectators in the courtroom.
While the full opinion had been distributed outside the courtroom and journalists were reporting the decision, spectators — including retired Justice John Paul Stevens and two Republican opponents of the law, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — were inside, hanging on every word of Chief Justice John Roberts. For the first few minutes, the spectators, stripped of iPhones, BlackBerrys and other electronic devices, must have thought they were hearing Roberts throw out the law.
Roberts began by saying the requirement that individuals get health insurance was an unconstitutional expansion of the Commerce Clause. The law went too far in governing inactivity, he said. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, vilified in March for his arguments before the court, sat just feet away from Roberts as the chief justice said the government cannot compel citizens to buy health care.
For about ten minutes, Verrilli and the rest of the audience listened, until Roberts switched gears. Though Obama had gone to lengths to avoid calling the insurance requirement a tax, “it certainly looks like a tax,” Roberts said. He said Congress had the authority to impose the insurance requirement under its power to levy taxes, affirming the health-care law’s constitutionality.
Justice Elena Kagan, sitting at the far end of the bench at Roberts’s left, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, at his far right, watched him read the opinion. The other justices looked straight ahead, with Samuel Alito drinking from a coffee cup and Clarence Thomas scooting his seat a foot behind everyone else and slouching in his chair.
12:48 p.m. From Bloomberg News reporter Anna Edney, opposing views of today’s decision from the crowd outside the court.
Barbara Tirrell identified herself as a Obama supporter and actress from New York City who is working at Arena Stage in Washington, DC:
Linda Dorr described herself as a Tea Party patriot from Laguna Beach, California:
12:35 p.m. Here’s how several leading online news sources are playing the health care story at midday:
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12:21 p.m. President Obama, speaking at the White House, said the decision was “a victory” for all Americas. The decision means all of the health care law’s “benefits and protections will continue,” he said.
12:10 p.m. Bloomberg TV producer Austen Williams reports things got a little dicey outside the court after the decisions were issued. There were “lots of shoves and hard nudges between cameramen fighting for a spot to get close to lawmakers, as well as between Tea Party protesters and cameramen.” Williams, who took an elbow to the face, reports there were some colorful words exchanged in the scrum.
11:46 a.m. More from the dissent jointly authored by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Alito:
“If this provision “regulates” anything, it is the failure to maintain minimum essential coverage. One might argue that it regulates that failure by requiring it to be accompanied by payment of a penalty. But that failure — that abstention from commerce — is not “Commerce.” To be sure, purchasing insurance is ”Commerce”; but one does not regulate commerce that does not exist by compelling its existence.”
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“If all inactivity affecting commerce is commerce, commerce is everything.”
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“We never have classified as a tax an exaction imposed for violation of the law, and so too, we never have classified as a tax an exaction described in the legislation itself as a penalty . . . [And] we have never — never — treated as a tax an exaction which faces up to the critical difference betweena tax and a penalty, and explicitly denominates the exaction a ‘penalty.’”
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“And the nail in the coffin is that the mandate and penalty are located in Title I of the Act, its operative core, rather than where a tax would be found — in Title IX, containing the Act’s “Revenue Provisions.” In sum, “the terms of [the] act rende[r] it unavoidable,” Parsons v. Bedford, 3 Pet. 433, 448 (1830), that Congress imposed a regulatory penalty, not a tax.”
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“Whether federal spending legislation crosses the line from enticement to coercion is often difficult to determine, and courts should not conclude that legislation is unconstitutional on this ground unless the coercive nature of an offer is unmistakably clear. In this case, however, there can be no doubt. In structuring the ACA, Congress unambiguously signaled its belief that every State would have no real choice but to go along with the Medicaid Expansion. If the anticoercion rule does not apply in this case,then there is no such rule.”
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These decision excerpts, and those that preceded, came from Bloomberg Law analyst Rachael Krueger.
11:27 a.m. More from Justice Ginsburg’s opinion, which was joined in whole or in part by Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor:
“Rather than evaluating the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision in the manner established by our precedents, the Chief Justice relies on a newly minted constitutional doctrine. The commerce power does not, the Chief Justice announces, permit Congress to “compe[l] individuals to become active in commerceby purchasing a product.” … The Chief Justice’s novel constraint on Congress’ commerce power gains no force from our precedent and for that reason alone warrants disapprobation.”
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“In sum, Congress passed the minimum coverage provision as a key component of the ACA to address an economic and social problem that has plagued the Nation for decades: the large number of U. S. residents who are unable or unwilling to obtain health insurance. Whatever one thinks of the policy decision Congress made, it was Congress’ prerogative to make it. Reviewed with appropriate deference, the minimum coverage provision, allied to the guaranteed-issue and community-rating prescriptions, should survive measurement under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses.”
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“A majority of the Court, however, buys the argument that prospective withholding of funds formerly available exceeds Congress’ spending power. Given that holding, I entirely agree with the Chief Justice as to the appropriate remedy. It is to bar the withholding found impermissible—not, as the joint dissenters would have it, to scrap the expansion altogether, see post, at 46–48. The dissenters’ view that the ACA must fall in its entirety is a radical departure from the Court’s normal course. When a constitutional infirmity mars a statute, the Court ordinarily removes the infirmity. It undertakes a salvage operation; it does not demolish the legislation.”
11:10 a.m. On the broccoli beat, Bloomberg Law’s Josh Block finds that the word was mentioned a dozen times in the court’s opinions. There were three mentions by Chief Justice Roberts, five by Justice Ginsburg and four in the dissenting opinion.
The most appetizing quotes are:
From Justice Ginsburg: As an example of the type of regulation he fears, the Chief Justice cites a Government mandate to purchase green vegetables. Ante, at 22–23. One could call this concern “the broccoli horrible.”
From the dissent: But those differences do not show that the failure to enter the health-insurance market, unlike the failure to buy cars and broccoli, is an activity that Congress can “regulate.” (Of course one day the failure of some of the public to purchase American cars may endanger the existence of domestic automobile manufacturers; or the failure of some to eat broccoli may be found to deprive them of a newly discovered cancer fighting chemical which only that food contains, producing health-care costs that are a burden on the rest of us — in which case, under the theory of Justice Ginsburg’s dissent, moving against those in activities will also come within the Federal Government’s unenumerated problem solving powers.)
11:09 a.m. More from Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion:
“The text of a statute can sometimes have more than one possible meaning. To take a familiar example, a law that reads “no vehicles in the park” might, or might not, ban bicycles in the park. And it is well established that if a statute has two possible meanings, one of which violates the Constitution, courts should adopt the meaning that does not do so.”
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“Although the payment will raise considerable revenue, it is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage. But taxes that seek to influence conduct are nothing new. Some of our earliest federal taxes sought to deter the purchase of imported manufactured goods in order to foster the growth of domestic industry.”
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“Indeed, it is estimated that four million people each year will choose to pay the IRS rather than buy insurance. See Congressional Budget Office, supra, at 71. We would expect Congress to be troubled by that prospect if such conduct were unlawful. That Congress apparently regards such extensive failure to comply with the mandate as tolerable suggests that Congress did not think it was creating four million outlaws. It suggests instead that the shared responsibility payment merely imposes a tax citizens may lawfully choose to pay in lieu of buying health insurance.”
10:55 a.m. SCOTUSblog’s take on how the decision changes the fundamentals of constitutional law: “The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code — especially in the current political environment — to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition.”
10:49 a.m. From the dissent jointly authored by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Alito and Thomas: “If the industry does not respond by increasing premiums, it is not likely to survive. And if the industry does increase premiums, then there is a serious risk that its products — insurance plans — will become economically undesirable for many and prohibitively ex- pensive for the rest.
10:45 a.m. Justice Ginsburg, responding to Roberts’ view of the Commerce Clause power:
“The Chief Justice’s crabbed reading of the Commerce Clause harks back to the era in which the Court routinely thwarted Congress’ efforts to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it.”
10:43 a.m. Chief Justice Roberts, in the court’s opinion, finding the Commerce Clause does not authorize the health care law:
“Just as the individual mandate cannot be sustained as a law regulating the substantial effects of the failure to purchase health insurance, neither can it be upheld as a “necessary and proper” component of the insurance reforms. The commerce power thus does not authorize the mandate.”
10:38 a.m. Here are the opinions in the health care cases.
10:34 a.m. Bloomberg News reports that the four justices in dissent wrote: “The fragmentation of power produced by the structure of our government is central to liberty, and when we destroy it, we place liberty at peril. Today’s decision should have vindicated, should have taught, this truth: instead, our judgment today has disregarded it.”
10:31 a.m. Bloomberg News’ initial story is online. Updates to come.
10:27 a.m. SCOTUSblog is reporting:
Justice Ginsburg makes clear that the vote is 5-4 on sustaining the mandate as a form of tax. Her opinion, for herself and Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan, joins the key section of Roberts opinion on that point. She would go further and uphold the mandate under the Commerce Clause, which Roberts wouldn’t. Her opinion on Commerce does not control.
10:22 a.m. SCOTUSblog describes this as the “money quote” regarding the mandate: “Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it”
The blog says the key passage about the expansion of Medicaid, also from Justice Roberts, is: “Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”
10:20 a.m. Writing for the court, Chief Justice Roberts said “It is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income but choose to go without health insurance.”
10:16 a.m. Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito dissenting on the mandate, Retuers reports.Still no decision on the court’s website.
10:14 a.m. SCOTUSblog says “The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.”
10:11 a.m. Chief Justice Roberts authored the court’s majority opinion, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bloomberg has the stocks to watch:
• Watch AGP, CNC, MOH
• Watch managed-care groups including AET, CI, UNH, WLP
• Decision removes “risk of worst case scenario,” stocks likely to gain, Credit Suisse’s Charles Boorady said in June 19 note
• Hospitals also rise; watch CYH, HCA, HMA LPNY, THC, UHS
10:09 a.m. Medicaid expansion is limited by the court, Bloomberg News reports.
10:08 a.m. The individual mandate survives as a tax, reports SCOTUSblog.
10:07 a.m. The health care law has been upheld by the court, Bloomberg News reports.
10:06 a.m. Here’s the opinion in Alvarez.
10:05 a.m. In Alvarez, Kennedy authored the court’s opinion. Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissent.
10:03 a.m. In United States v. Alvarez, the court has found that a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors does violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.
10:00 a.m. Reuters is reporting plenty of seats remain open in the courtroom. Interesting.
9:55 a.m. A take from Reuters and the NY Times from inside the press room, as we await the start of today’s session in five minutes:
9:50 a.m. Bloomberg News’ Supreme Court reporter Greg Storh has this inside look at what will be going on in the courtroom and the press room in just 10 minutes:
[The court] announces the opinions from the bench beginning at 10 a.m., Washington time. As soon as Chief Justice John Roberts says an opinion is about to be issued, court employees begin handing out copies to reporters [in the press room]. That means the first word of the health care decision will probably come from news reports. As with arguments, the court doesn’t permit video or live audio coverage of its opinion announcements. The court will post a copy of the decision on its website soon after it is issued.
The people in the courtroom may be among the last to know the outcome. The justice who wrote the opinion will give a summary — and may not say immediately what the bottom line is.
9:45 a.m. There are two other decisions the court is expected to hand down today (descriptions from SCOTUSblog):
United States v. Alvarez: Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.
First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards: Whether lawsuits under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which allows homebuyers to sue banks and title companies when they pay kickbacks for the closing of a mortgage loan, are constitutional if the kickback does not affect the price or quality of the services provided?
Those two rulings are expected to be handed down first, which would probably push back the announcement in the health care cases to between 10:10 and 10:20 a.m.
9:37 a.m. Bettors using the online prediction market Intrade – where individuals can bet on political events – are wagering the U.S. Supreme Court will vote to strike down the Obama health care reform law’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
There is a 66.6 percent chance the mandate will be invalidated, bettors are predicting, up considerably from the 36.9 percent chance prior to the case’s oral arguments.
9:30 a.m. If the individual mandate is struck, some have argued that without the influx of young, healthy Americans paying premiums that would serve to cover the costs of older, sicker Americans, health care for all won’t work. But there may be another way, Bloomberg Government suggests.
Its analysis found that requiring individuals to be enrolled automatically in their employers’ health insurance plans, but having the option to opt out of the plans, would generate $20 billion in new insurance revenue. And the auto enrollment may even be viewed as required by the existing law, the study found.
9:28 a.m. Health care provider stocks are performing better than those of medical plans, but that relative performance is likely to reverse once the health care cases are decided today, according to analysts at Jefferies & Co., Bloomberg News reports.
“Providers face a very tough road ahead,” the Jefferies analysts wrote in a report [Thursday]. They cited pressure from commercial health plans to limit costs, election “noise” from presidential and congressional candidates, and risks tied to Medicare rates and government finances.
Health-maintenance organizations and other payers have a more favorable outlook, the report said, because they stand to benefit from relatively low demand for medical care along with efforts to reduce expenses.
Here’s how the stocks of providers and payers have performed since oral arguments in late March:
9:13 a.m. If only the individual mandate is struck down, could that be the worst of all possible worlds for investors in health care stocks? ISI Group says yes, and Bloomberg TV’s Adam Johnson breaks it down:
8:58 a.m. If the court’s end-of-term rush to release its highest profile opinions leaves you a little breathless, you have good company. Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, writing June 17th on Bloomberg View, noted that the court had yet to issue its five most important decisions. Too many will be issued on the same day, resulting in some of them getting buried in the media coverage, he said:
The court would have done the nation a service by stringing out these five decisions over the course of June, guaranteeing that each got the scrutiny it deserved. That it chose not to suggests the court may be a little worried about a world in which its approval rating stands at 44 percent and some three-quarters of respondents believe (correctly, I’d say) that a justice’s personal opinion matters in deciding important cases.
8:54 a.m. Reporting from in front of the court this morning, Bloomberg TV’s Megan Hughes notes that the decision will be as much a part of Chief Justice John Roberts’ legacy as that of President Obama:
8:49 a.m. The decision is more than an hour away, but the fundraising based on it has already begun, Mark Silva reports on Bloomberg’s Political Capital blog:
Whichever way the Supreme Court rules this morning on President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the fundraising is underway.
“We don’t know what will happen this morning,” Obama campaign manger Jim Messina writes in an e-mail to supporters this morning. “But no matter what, today is an important day to have Barack Obama’s back. If you’re with him, donate now — before this week’s critical fundraising deadline.”
8:46 a.m. Bloomberg BNA’s Tom Taylor reports there are belly dancers in front of the court. And he has the picture to prove it:
8:40 a.m. The smart money continues to bet that Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the court’s swing vote on health care. On June 14, Bloomberg News’ Greg Stohr reported that:
“Justice Kennedy is the axis around which the court spins in a case like this,” said Tom Goldstein, an appellate lawyer whose SCOTUSblog website, sponsored by Bloomberg Law, tracks the court. “On this closely divided court, someone inevitably has to be the center vote, and he is consistently it.”
For Kennedy, the answer may turn on whether he sees the law as too intrusive, particularly the requirement that Americans either get insurance or pay a penalty. The 75-year-old justice has long described individual freedom as his paramount constitutional value — whether the underlying issue is abortion, gay sex, detainee rights or federal power.
How will Kennedy swing? Clues may lurk in the questions he asked and the comments he made during oral arguments in March:
8:22 a.m. While most experts are predicting the court will invalidate the individual mandate, SCOTUS Blog founder and High Court litigator Tom Goldstein is predicting the mandate will be upheld. He writes on his blog, which is sponsored by Bloomberg Law:
In the end, based on the entire mix of information I have, I think the mandate will not be struck down tomorrow. (I don’t have any inside information, nor does anyone else.) My prediction includes the possibility that there will not be a single majority opinion for the theory on which the mandate is upheld, and even the thin possibility that the Court will not have a majority to find the mandate constitutional.
My level of confidence isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good enough to give a concrete prediction. We’ll see.
The call can be seen as a savvy marketing move. If he’s right, he’ll be hailed by reporters as the court’s ultimate soothsayer. If he’s wrong, the prediction will probably be quickly forgotten. Either way, expect to see Goldstein all over the media and the blogosphere – including this blog – after the ruling comes down.
The blog, now in its 10th year, has become the media darling of the health care cases. It’s been profiled in Forbes magazine, on NPR, and in the Washington Post, among many other outlets. And White House spokesman Jay Carney said the President would be holed up in the press secretary’s office this morning, getting his first reports of the decision from the blog and mainstream media. When journalists talk about alternative sources of the news, it’s operations like SCOTUSblog that point the way to what can be done on a comparatively small budget by experts/bloggers.
Goldstein has invested $25,000 in the blog’s technological infrastructure in recent weeks so it can handle the load of visitors this morning. They’ve got their fingers crossed on Twitter that it doesn’t crash:
8:09 a.m. A Bloomberg News survey of constitutional law professors at the nation’s top 12 law schools has found that 19 of 21 believe the court should uphold the individual mandate, requiring all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, but only eight of the professors believe the court will do so. A wide majority — 15 of 21 — believe the court won’t toss the entire law, even if the mandate is struck down.
Striking the mandate could harm the court’s reputation as an impartial institution, the professors said:
Eighteen of the 21 professors said the court’s credibility will be damaged if the insurance requirement — which passed Congress without a single Republican vote — is ruled unconstitutional by a 5-4 majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents.
8:05 a.m. One thing we’ll learn this morning is what, if anything, broccoli has to do with the Obama health care reform law.
Opponents of the measure have famously suggested that if the federal government can force Americans to buy health insurance, they can force us to buy broccoli too. Justice Antonin Scalia picked up on the meme during oral arguments, asking the Obama administration’s lawyer Donald Verrilli, “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”
We’ve detailed Bloomberg Law analyst Josh Block to the broccoli beat. He’ll be combing through the opinions looking for references to the green vegetable. Check back after 10:00 a.m. for full broccoli coverage.
8:00 a.m. Bloomberg TV producer Judy Lyons reports about 150 people in the spectator line this morning, with more students and tourists, and fewer interested parties, that were in line for the March oral arguments.
7:45 a.m. The nation’s highest court will render its decision today, but the court of public opinion has already spoken about health care, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Americans recognize there are problems with the health care system, but remain deeply divided about the solutions, it says:
What’s clearest about public opinion may be this: In their concern about issues of access and rising costs, Americans don’t want Washington to do nothing. If the court strikes down the whole Affordable Care Act, fully 77 percent of Americans in the new AP/GfK poll said Congress should start on a new bill, not leave the health-care system as it is.
7:38 a.m. Here’s a wide shot of the media scrum in front of the court’s steps, from Instagram user Indianz:
7:30 a.m. To cut through the confusion of the initial minutes after a decision is issued, we’ll be looking for the answers to these four questions:
- Is the court barred from deciding the case until 2014, when the penalty for not buying health insurance goes into effect?
- Is the individual mandate, requiring all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, constitutional?
- If the mandate is not constitutional, how much of the rest of the law must be struck down?
- Can Congress force the states to expand Medicaid?
Here’s the health care cases in a 90-second nutshell, from Bloomberg Law:
7:15 a.m. If the court’s decision is at all complex — and given the number of issues it’s considering, that’s highly likely — it will be interesting to see how quickly reporters can make sense of what the ruling actually is. Those of you with long memories may recall one of the Supreme Court Press Corps’ worst moments, when it tried to determine on live TV what the heck the court decided in Bush v. Gore. For a refresher, take a look at this video, starting at the 1-minute mark:
Indeed, you only have to look back to Monday’s decision on Arizona’s immigration law to see how difficult it is for the media to parse an “affirmed in part, reversed in part” decision. Politico reported about the confusion and also looked at the lighter side of the confusion on Twitter, including this response:
The minutes it takes to sort out the decision is a period of particular danger for politicians, the New York Times reports:
The momentary chaos could be downright dangerous for political candidates who move too quickly to embrace or condemn the court’s actions. A stray statement made before all the facts are understood could easily come back to haunt a political candidate.
In the end, the political danger is likely to prompt a period of awkward silence from both camps in the first few hours after the ruling. That will give the campaigns a chance to digest the ruling, examine the opinions and come up with statements that are least likely to get them in trouble.
7:08 a.m. The Supreme Court is not the most digitally advanced arm of the federal government. The first people to know what today’s decisions are will be the reporters in the court’s press room, who will be handed paper copies of the rulings.
At a time when President Obama’s Open Government Initiative has led to a new push for transparency and major overhauls of federal websites, SCOTUS is still shrouded in mystery, offline and on-.
Looking at the Court’s site the night before the Affordable Care Act decision is to be handed down, there’s nothing that suggests what’s coming tomorrow or even an easy way to learn the time of the announcement. The site’s design and style pale next to websites managed by the government’s executive (WhiteHouse.gov) and legislative (House.gov) branch.
6:57 a.m. Here’s a look at the overnight scene at the court, posted by Twitter user Robyn Nolan at 4:09 a.m.:
And Huffington Post senior political reporter Jon Ward tweeted at 6:00 a.m. that by 4:30 a.m., all the TV crew stand-up locations in front of the court’s steps were taken:
6:56 a.m. For those of us who report about and analyze the law, this is our Super Bowl. And at the Chicago Sun-Times, the nerves are showing.
Eagle-eyed journalist Dan Catchpole at Washington’s Yakima Herald-Republic noticed early yesterday evening night that the Chicago paper had posted to its website its draft copy for the health care story, with four different headline treatments:
Needless to say, it has since been taken down. Mistakes like this have a long history in Chicago. It was the Chicago Tribune that published the infamous Dewey Defeats Truman headline in 1948.
6:55 a.m. Welcome to Decision Day in the Supreme Court’s health care cases. We’ll be live blogging the whole day, starting now with context and on-the-scene reports from outside the court building, through the announcement of the decisions shortly after 10:00 a.m. ET, and into the late afternoon as analysis rolls in from across the political spectrum.
We’ll be looking at the legal, business and political angles of the story, with reports from Bloomberg’s army of reporters and analysts, along with the best coverage from other mainstream media outlets and the blogosphere.
And we start with a caveat – we say it’s Decision Day, but it may not be. The court is free to hold the case over until the start of its next term in October, either because it hasn’t been able to complete its work or because it wants additional briefing or oral argument on a particular issue related to the cases. It’s highly unlikely it will do so, but it’s not unheard of. The landmark Brown v. Board of Education, for instance, was argued on December 9-11, 1952, then reargued on December 7-9, 1953. A decision was finally issued on May 17, 1954.