On eve of health ruling, Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicts 'sharp disagreement'
|People rally on the sidewalk during legal arguments over the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court. (Photo: Reuters | Date: Mar. 27, 2012)|
With a wry smile, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laid waste Friday to all those rumors about the fate of the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court.
“Those who know don’t talk. And those who talk don’t know,” she quipped Friday night at a conference hosted by the American Constitution Society at the Capital Hilton. Ginsburg said she was responding to a "steady stream of rumors and fifth-hand accounts" about the court's deliberations on the law.
Careful not to tip her hand on the court’s ruling — expected in the next two weeks — Ginsburg described the oral arguments in the case as unprecedented for the number of “press conferences, prayer circles, protests and counterprotests” that occurred on the courthouse steps.
Although she offered no insight into the tightly held decisions of her colleagues, Ginsburg did indicate that many of the court’s decisions over the next two weeks — which are also expected to include an FCC indecency ruling — might be close.
The 21 remaining decisions, she said, were “many of the most controversial cases” that the court reviewed this term.
“It is likely that the sharp disagreement rate will go up next week and the week after,” she said.
Although the oral arguments on the ACA spanned six hours over three days, she noted that a case cited during those arguments — McCullough v. Maryland — featured oral arguments that spanned nine days over two months.
Ginsburg noted that one ACA-related question the court must decide is whether the whole law must fall if the individual mandate is unconstitutional — “or may the mandate be chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of it?”
But no, she didn't drop any hints about what the answer will be.