Whom to watch in the Supreme Court health law arguments

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 22, 2012 

The plaintiff:

  • Kaj Ahlburg: A Harvard Law School graduate and resident of Port Angeles, Wash., Ahlburg has his name atop the suit over the individual mandate, filed by the National Federation of Independent Business. Formerly the president of the Port Angeles Business Association, and a onetime investment banker, Ahlburg has largely avoided the spotlight during the legal proceedings.
  • The lawyers:
  • Paul Clement: The 45-year-old Harvard Law School graduate and former solicitor general for the George W. Bush administration is representing Florida and other states that are challenging the health care law. He's a veteran advocate, having argued before the Supreme Court more than 50 times.
  • Donald Verrilli Jr.: The Obama administration's solicitor general, Verrilli is a 54-year-old Yale and Columbia Law School graduate who's argued 16 previous cases before the high court. He'll be carrying the heaviest burden in defending the law.
  • Robert A. Long: The Supreme Court has assigned the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Yale Law School graduate, who's in his mid-50s, to argue that the lawsuit is premature until the insurance mandate takes effect in 2014. Long is highly regarded, but few expect him to prevail unless the court elects to duck the big constitutional questions.
  • The justices:
  • Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts Jr.: Every justice counts on a nine-member court, but these two bear especially close watching. Kennedy is the traditional swing vote in 5-4 cases. Roberts appoints the author of the opinion if he's in the majority. If he prevails, don't be surprised if he assigns himself the job of writing what would be a historic opinion.
  • The lawmakers:
  • Fred Upton and Dave Camp: The pair of Michigan Republicans are the chairmen of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, respectively. Any congressional action to curtail the health care law or at least send a signal in the wake of a court ruling would come through these committees.


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McClatchy Newspapers 2012

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