Today’s hearings on the Affordable Health Care Act
by Amy Deull
Here are some thoughts on my having listened to a little more than 2 hours of today’s arguments in front of the Supreme Court on the Affordable Health Care Act.
Some folks raised on Court TV where television cameras broadcast legal proceedings would probably desire TV coverage of these historic arguments. I’m different, though.
A child in Pittsburgh in the 50’s and 60’s, I was an avid Pirates fan. Such a time it was on a hot summer afternoon, listening to Bob Prince spin out plays over the radio. Based on his description, I could see Vernon Law staring at Smoky Burgess, contemplating the choice of pitch; or watch Roberto Clemente foul time after time after time until his mighty bat found the sweet spot of an incoming fastball; or even be part of the breathtaking joy as Maz blew one out over the ivy-covered outfield wall to seal the World Series win over the Yankees. Harvey Haddix, Elroy Face, Dick Stuart, Dick Groat, my hero Bill Virdon – their actions, as told by the most skillful of play by play men, were as alive to me as if I were sitting in the shadowy stands in Forbes Field. The power and beauty of the spoken word – the story of the game – enchanted me.
Listening to the attorneys present today’s portion of their positions on the Affordable Health Care Act, hearing the interplay between justices’ questions and attorney responses, was similarly enchanting to me. For the government – Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Two attorneys for the opposition – Paul Clement representing the state Attorneys General and Michael Carvin representing the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Most justices questioned the attorneys. (I didn’t hear Justice Thomas). It was exhilarating to hear the back and forth, the summaries, the questions, the interruptions. It was a giant time capsule of history, drawing listeners back to the Founders’ original intent, the subsequent court cases. It was a legal primer being taught simultaneously by some of our country’s most brilliant minds. It was as if Einstein were your high school physics teacher. It was sometimes drama, sometimes comedy, but at all times history in the here and now, as it was happening.
Tomorrow in the morning there will be arguments on the Constitutionality of the individual mandate. The afternoon arguments will addess whether the Affordable Health Care Act’s extension of Medicare is proper. The hearings are available on CSPAN.org. Today’s proceedings will begin again at 4:15 PM.
An interesting postscript after today’s oral arguments occurred outside. After attorney Michael Carvin’s brief statement, NFIB’s Karen Harned introduced West Virginia small businessman and plaintiff in the suit Dave Klemencic. He’s just a regular guy with a sole proprietorship of a retail flooring business in a community of 383 people. He could be any one of us. He seemed pleased at how the proceedings went today.
He was asked how he provides for his medical insurance needs and why he had brought the suit. He has built an emergency fund. He pays his routine medical expenses directly, going to the dentist three times a year and the doctor as needed. When he goes, he takes his checkbook. At the end of his answer to the second question, he said it all comes down to what kind of America do you want – a socialized one or a free one.