Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Night Before Thursday

Pictured: the best secret-keepers in Washington
Well, here we are. After months--years, even--of anticipation, tomorrow the country will learn to what fate the Supreme Court has consigned the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The stakes could not be much higher. Liberals fear that the Court, if it were to strike down even just the individual mandate to purchase health insurance which lies at the center of the statute, might restrain the Constitution's Commerce Clause, which Congress has used with the Court's backing to expand the power of the state over economic life since Wickard v. Filburn. On the other hand, conservatives fear that, were the court to uphold the mandate, then any limiting principle on the state's authority would vanish. Moreover, at least four justices most likely think from each of the opposing sides, leaving Justice Anthony Kennedy as kingmaker, and perhaps one of the most powerful men in America. In a way, it's a sort of perverted Christmas, with each side unable to handle the anxiety from the possibility that it might not get what it wants. Whatever opinion emerges tomorrow--though decided before--will have repercussions both as near as the doctor's office and as far as the sort of country which generations hence shall inhabit. Whatever happens, be sure to turn to the Sons of Cincinnatus for analysis and commentary. Readers can be assured that many subsequent posts in both the short and long-term will pertain to the Supreme Court, whether the nature of the Court as an institution or the character of the Roberts' court in general, or its recent decisions in particular. But for now, one can only wait. Or, on the subject of Christmas, enjoy this version of "A Visit From St. Nicholas," modified appropriately for the occasion.

With apologies to Clement Clark Moore:
"A Visit from Lady Justice"


'Twas the night before Thursday, when all through D.C.
All the pundits were screaming, even on MSNBC.
Their opinions were said not often with care,
In hopes that Lady Justice soon would be there
The pundits were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of mandates danced in their heads;
And Obama in the White House, with Romney still fighting,
Continued to argue for a vision of righting
When out on the Court-steps there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from the Trail to see what was the matter.
Away to reporters they flew like a flash,
Tore open the doors and took up a dash.
The sun on the rise of the presidential row
Gave the lustre of mid-day to columnists below,
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But the Supreme Court, with nine and one in the rear,
A blindfolded lady, so beautifully austere
I knew in a moment that Lady Justice was there.
More rapid than eagles the justices they came,
And She whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now Roberts! Now Scalia! Now Kennedy! Now Thomas!
"On Bryer! On Alito! On Sotomayor! On Kagan! On Ginsberg!

To the top of the steps! to the top of the hill!
Decide away! Decide! Decide, until..."

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When she met with a microphone, she looked to the sky,
And up to the cloud-top the justices flew,
Full of opinions, and Lady Justice too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the news
The dissenting and controlling of nine justices' views.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Out the T.V. screen came Justice with a bound
She was dressed all in a robe, from shoulders to toes,
And her words were untarnished by mistrust or throes;
A bundle of cases She had flung on her back,
And she looked like a peddler just opening her pack.
Her eyes -- still blindfolded! Her dimples unmoved!
Her cheeks were uncolored, her face short of mood!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And face 'round the blindfold was fairer than you know;
The scales of the law she held tight in her hand,
And in the other, the sword of reprimand;
She had a small face and a slim figure,
That barely moved at all, as if fixed to a rigger.

She was incredibly fair, in more ways than one
And I gasped when I saw her, wondering which side had won;
Beneath her eyes, the ruling remained unrevealed,
Much though I wanted what she had concealed;
She then spoke the word, and I was amazed,
Then she let all the justices have their ways,
And then, taking the nine around the scales,
And giving a nod, into the T.V. She sails;
Springing out of sight, to Her team gave a whistle,

But I heard Her exclaim, ere she moved out of vision,
“Happy Term to all, you have heard the Decision! ”

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