Saturday, June 30, 2012

Props to Verrilli

In Scorned after oral arguments on healthcare, Verrilli emerges a winner, David G. Savage of the L.A. Times congratulates Solicitor General Donald Verrilli on his litigation strategy in the health care case - specifically, for making a strong case that the law was a constitutional exercise of Congress' power to tax under the General Welfare Clause. I agree with Savage and extend my gratitude to the S.G. for his efforts defending this landmark legislation. Although quoted in an earlier post, On Liberty: Kennedy and Verrilli in Oral Argument over Health Care (March 29, 2012), Verrilli's eloquent closing remarks to the Court bear repeating:

I'd like to take half a step back here, that this provision, the Medicaid expansion that we're talking about this afternoon and the provisions we talked about yesterday, we've been talking about them in terms of their effect as measures that solve problems, problems in the economic marketplace, that have resulted in millions of people not having health care because they can't afford insurance.
There is an important connection, a profound connection, between that problem and liberty. And I do think it's important that we not lose sight of that.
That in this population of Medicaid eligible people who will receive health care that they cannot now afford under this Medicaid expansion, there will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

And the same thing will be true for -- for a husband whose wife is diagnosed with breast cancer and who won't face the prospect of being forced into bankruptcy to try to get care for his wife and face the risk of having to raise his children alone. And I could multiply example after example after example.

In a very fundamental way, this Medicaid expansion, as well as the provisions we discussed yesterday, secure of the blessings of liberty. And I think that that is important as the Court is considering these issues that that be kept in mind. The -- the Congress struggled with the issue of how to deal with this profound problem of 40 million people without health care for many years, and it made a judgment, and its judgment is one that is, I think, in conformity with lots of experts thought, was the best complex of options to handle this problem.
Maybe they were right; maybe they weren't. But this is something about which the people of the United States can deliberate and they can vote, and if they think it needs to be changed, they can change it. And I would suggest to the Court, with profound respect for the Court's obligation to ensure that the Federal Government remains a government of enumerated powers, that this is not a case in any of its aspects that calls that into question. That this was a judgment of policy, that democratically accountable branches of this government made by their best lights.

And I would urge this Court to respect that judgment and ask that the Affordable Care Act, in its entirety, be upheld. Thank you.
For better or worse, the Court's decision in this case will dramatically affect the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It is an enormous responsibility to brief and argue cases of this magnitude. No matter what one believes about the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act, we owe a debt of thanks to the lawyers who argued these cases and the judges who decided them. We will be wiser for having had the debate.

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