There’s too much going on this week to focus on work, so please indulge me if this post strays a little off topic.
Over shady internet streams, we get to watch an uber-talented U.S. Olympic soccer team fight for its life in qualifying against a murderer’s row of Cuba (6-0 US), Canada (2-0 CAN), and El Salvador (Monday night).
But none of that compares to what SCOTUS offers this week: a whopping six hours–six hours–of oral argument in the health care cases.
This offers a veritable wonderland for law geeks, as well as a great learning opportunity. (In fairness, both Mad Men and Game of Thrones also provide their share of life lessons. See, e.g., Stupid Ned Stark, source of the accompanying image.)
The WSJ’s Washington Wire blog offers a schedule of what we can expect when:
- On Monday, 90 minutes of argument about the effect of the Anti-Injunction Act.
- On Tuesday, two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
- On Wednesday morning, 90 minutes of argument on what to do with the Act if the Court strikes down the individual mandate.
- On Wednesday afternoon, an hour of argument on the Act’s expansion of Medicaid.
The Court will release audio of the arguments immediately after these sessions.
Speaking of audio, the lead players in this week’s drama will be Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and the smartest person I’ve ever seen in real life, former SG Paul Clement. Nina Totenberg did a charming profile on each of them for All Things Considered. Here’s Verrilli, and here’s Clement. Both are well worth your time.
Update: Adam Liptak has a cool piece in the NYT about the lawyers’ preparation for this marathon argument, which includes numerous moot courts.
Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to squeeze something useful out of this post, I will direct you to Ross Guberman’s site. Ross is a legal-writing expert and De Novo favorite for two reasons: first, he knows his stuff; and second, he backs it up with concrete examples from briefs by big-time lawyers. I love his book, Point Made, and I enjoy the the shorter pieces that he does on specific briefs.
In honor of this week’s events, Ross has taken a fine-toothed comb to the Government’s brief, to see whether–in his words–the Case of the Century inspired the Brief of the Century.
Spoiler: it didn’t, at least from the Government.
But it’s worth taking a look at Ross’ piece to see some of the reasons why the Government’s brief falls short of greatness. Seeing what a legal writing critic has to say about the work of extremely talented lawyers working on an impossibly high-profile case provides a great learning experience.After all, the SG’s office is known for the consistently high quality of its briefing.
Good stuff. Now, if only Ross would give the same treatment to Paul Clement’s brief.