There will be times when things just break badly for you. You won’t always live up to the expectations you have for yourself and that others have for you. It happens to all of us. And when it happens it can be tough, believe me. Let me just say on that point that people who say there’s no such thing as bad publicity have no idea what they’re talking about. There is definitely bad publicity. Being on the wrong end of a Jon Stewart monologue is bad publicity.

Solicitor general DONALD VERRILLI, JR., who was roundly criticized for his oral arguments at the Supreme Court in defense of the Affordable Care Act; the critiques were issued by the likes of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Jon Stewart.

For what it’s worth, Toobin apologized yesterday.  I think Stewart perhaps owes him the same.

(via the New York Times)

The first call President Obama made after learning that the Supreme Court had upheld his health care law on Thursday was to thank his solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who had been much maligned for his at-times rocky performance during oral arguments in March.

It was sweet vindication. Mr. Verrilli, described as humble but intensely competitive, has told friends that the entire year, packed with high-stakes cases on issues like health care and immigration, was so stressful that he had gone through every stage of anxiety and had arrived at a state of peaceful resignation. He was “an island of calm in a sea of frenzy,” said Robert N. Weiner, a former colleague.

Mr. Verrilli betrayed little emotion shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. began reading the court’s momentous ruling on Mr. Obama’s health care law. Mr. Verrilli’s face was a grim mask as the chief justice explained why the court had rejected the government’s primary argument that the commerce clause of the Constitution empowered Congress to impose a mandate on individuals to obtain health insurance.

But as it became clear that the chief justice was joining the court’s liberal bloc in upholding the mandate as a tax — and that Mr. Verrilli had won one of the biggest cases in decades — his eyes began to well.

After the court session ended, Mr. Verrilli joined other government lawyers in a small room in the Supreme Court building. He was met with loud cheers and applause, which he quickly shushed. It had not been a total triumph — the court rejected part of the government’s argument on state Medicaid financing. And, he said, it is not about me; it was a team effort.

Yes, the defense of the president’s most important domestic policy initiative was the work of a team. But Mr. Verrilli, the government’s top lawyer, was its coach and the man who had taken bushels of abuse for supposedly botching the oral argument and endangering the law. The questioning from the justices in March had been brutal, even by the combative standards of the court. He was cut off 180 times during the three days of arguments, interrupted after speaking for 10 seconds or less more than 40 percent of the time, according to a study by a litigation consultant and a graduate student.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed bitterly divided during heated arguments over the fate of President Obama’s health care law.

The court’s four liberal members voiced strong support for the administration’s position. But the administration must almost certainly capture the vote of either Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. or Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to prevail.

The chief justice said almost nothing.

Justice Kennedy asked questions suggesting that he was uncomfortable with the administration’s reading of the statute. But he added that the challengers’ reading posed problems, too.

“Your argument raises a serious constitutional question,” he told their lawyer.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued for the Obama administration, facing Michael A. Carvin, who represented the plaintiffs in another challenge to the law that reached the Supreme Court in 2012.

The argument, which lasted 80 minutes rather than the usual hour, started with a presentation from Mr. Carvin that was tied closely to the text of the law.

“This is a straightforward question of statutory interpretation,” he said, referring to a provision in the law that seems to say that subsidies are available only to people living where the insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, had been “established by the state.”

Mr. Carvin faced a barrage of questions from the court’s liberal wing focusing on the health care law as a whole.

“We don’t look at four words,” Justice Elena Kagan said. “We look at the whole text.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer echoed the point.

“If you want to go into the context” of the law, he told Mr. Carvin, “at that point your argument really is weaker.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Mr. Carvin’s reading of the law would have devastating consequences. “We’re going to have the death spiral that this system was enacted to avoid,” she said.


The New York Times, “Supreme Court Appears Sharply Split In Case on Health Law.”

And to think more than seven million Americans might lose healthcare coverage based on a God damned technicality and half of the country is okay with that.