Supreme Court and ObamacarePeople Camp Outside U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Healthcare Oral Arguments

Now this is the kind of waiting in line that I could get into. Apparently, Americans will brave freezing temperatures, rain, and apparently even automatic sprinklers, when something is really important to them. While this camping out pales in comparison to the hysteria that is Black Friday, the consumerist price slashing free for all, it adds an element of excitement to the otherwise rather ordinary oral arguments.

Among the crowd was a mother (and attorney) of two children with chronic conditions, a son with Type I diabetes, and a daughter with epilepsy. She said it costs around $35,000 a year to keep her family covered, and because of her frustrations with the current healthcare insurance system, travels around the country advocating for equal access.

She was in good company with a legal blogger, law student, recently admitted law student, and many others. Eventhough she and others could have been admitted to hear arguments on Monday, they chose instead to wait until the arguments on Tuesday which dealt with the individual mandate aspect of the Bill, the epicenter of the legal battle over what defines interstate commerce.

Appellate Court Oral Arguments

Appellate court oral arguments are almost nothing like the sorts of discourse you may be familiar with when juries are involved. If you've ever caught an episode of "Judge Judy," then you may be acquainted with the notion of a "hot bench." For in oral arguments in appellate courts, the Supreme Court included, aside from lawyers being able to present their arguments and advocate on behalf of their clients, they can and will be interrupted by the justices repeatedly with questions about what they are saying.

Judges typically allow counsel to proceed with their prepared discussion for a few minutes, and then begin peppering them with questions about their arguments, facts, relevant statutes and cases, and whatever other issues with the case they wish to probe.  A "hot bench" refers to a panel of judges that ask questions almost on rapid fire, sometimes in succession before the prior judge has even been answered. A "cold bench" in contrast, refers to a bench that asks little to no questions. You can sometimes glean which way a justice is leaning based on the questions they are asking.

Here is a link to the audio from Tuesday's arguments. Scalia asks the first question less than two minutes in.

I'm sure it was well worth the wait!