We all know it's inevitable. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama signed into law in March 2010 is on its way to the Supreme Court, come hell or high water. Something about the individual mandate to buy insurance gives some people problems. Especially if they're Republicans or Tea Partyers. Or Libertarians. Or if they just hate Obama. Or if they're faux Democrats. Probably bothers some reasonable people, too, but not nearly as much. Anyway, as a public service, I thought I'd save everyone the trouble of anticipating what the Supremes'll do and just tell you. Even better, I'll offer a glimpse into their "deliberations." How can I do this? Because, thanks to Googleleaks (what, you haven't heard that Google bought Wikileaks?), I have an enhanced transcript. Check out Hyper-Optimized Transcripts - Forwarded in Advance of Real Time and Searchable (HOT-FARTS) on Google's site. It'll be there soon. I promise.
What follows is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me. (No, really, I'd like some help. Typing this stuff is a bitch.)
(A conference room done in green leather and mahogany. Small piles of documents cover much of the table top. A pitcher of water and, in front of each justice, a glass. In front of one justice, in addition to the glass, a Coca-Cola bottle.)
Roberts: Well, ladies and gentleman, we've all read the briefs and heard the arguments. It's time to make our decision. Tony, let's start with you.
Scalia and Kennedy: Well...
Roberts: Anthony, you're Anthony. Please remember. Antonin is Tony. Tony?
Ginsberg: (whispering to Kagan) "Antonin" sounds like a part of speech. (giggles)
Kagan: (whispering to Ginsberg) Or a drug. (guffaws)
Alito: (sneering at Kagan) Ahem!
Scalia: Okay, John. The way I see it [legalese ... "tax" ... more legalese ..."unwarranted intrusion" ... more legalese ... "framers" ... more legalese ... "Federalist Papers"... more legalese ... "original intent" ...] clearly unconstitutional! (savage grin)
Breyer: (smiling wanly and thinking to himself - "Scalia killed me when we had our debates, and he's gonna kill me again unless I can talk him out of it and get someone else for this summer's tour.")
Roberts: Good. Very good. Clarence?
Scalia: (subtly nudging Thomas) Clarence, wake up! You're on!
Thomas: Uhhhh. (pause) I agree with Tony. (makes eye contact with Scalia, hoping for a nod of affirmation)
Roberts: Is that all, Clarence? Isn't there anything you'd like to add?
Thomas: Uhhhh.......oh, yeah. I had one of my clerks google the Constitution and do a word check. Y'know what he found? (dramatic pause) The phrase "patient protection and affordable care" isn't anywhere in the document. Not even the amendments. Obviously, the law is unconstitutional! (glances proudly at Scalia)
Ginsberg: (thinking to herself - "Oy vey! Please God we don't have an affirmative action case anytime soon.")
Breyer: (smiling placidly while thinking to himself - "Oy vey! What a schlemiel! I could out-debate HIM, no sweat! I certainly hope we don't get any affirmative action cases this term.")
Kagan: (thinking to herself - "Oy vey! What a douche! If we get any affirmative action cases this term, we're fucked.")
Sotomayor: (thinking to herself - "Ay, pendejo! What happens if we get an affirmative action case?")
Alito: (sneering, thinking to himself - "Ooh, just give me one shot at affirmative action! Just one!")
Kennedy: (thinking to himself - "Remarkable! How can I side with that idiot without losing my humanity? I wonder if we'll have a chance at affirmative action this term.")
Scalia: (thinking to himself - "That's my boy! Affirmative action here we come! Wheeee!")
Roberts: (thinking to himself - "I bet I can get us an affirmative action case pretty soon. Hmmm, I should be able to come up with one of my typically ingenious legal theories that would allow us to use Clarence as prima facie evidence showing it doesn't work. And Tony''ll be able to get him to go along with it.")
Roberts: Thanks for your , uh, insight, Clarence. Anthony?
Kennedy: I'll defer for the moment. Is that permissible?
Roberts: In light of your seniority, Anthony, of course. I'll let you go last, if you'd like.
(cell phone rings)
Scalia: Uhhh, Dick, this isn't a good time ..... I know you're lonely .... Yes, I'll go hunting with you again .... Just promise not to shoot me in the face, ok? (chortles) .... Yes, I'll give them your regards .... No, I have to include the Jews, sorry .... Oh, really! Dick, that's great. I'll tell them .... Yeah, speak to you later.
(pause as everyone looks at Scalia)
Scalia: What?! He was president - I mean vice president - I HAD to take it. Anyway, he sends his regards to each of you. (skeptical nods from Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kagan) He told me they've finally found a heart donor that looks promising. With any luck, they'll be able to do a transplant next week.
Ginsberg; He's gone all these years without one, why does he need one now?
Alito: (sneering at Ginsberg) That's not true!
Breyer: (smiling) What luck finding a match! It's just remarkable that they could find a cold, hard one that works.
Alito: (sneering at Breyer) That's not true!
Roberts: Thanks, Tony. Give my best to Dick.
(snickers from Kagan and Thomas)
Roberts: Let's resume, please. Where were we? Oh, yes. Ruth?
Ginsberg: What?! I have cancer and you think I should vote to find the new health care law unconstitutional? What?! Are you serious?!
Roberts: Ruth, you know that as justices of our nation's highest court, we're supposed to rise above personal prejudices and self-serving ideology....
(Loud laughter from everyone except Alito, who's sneering at Ginsberg, and Thomas, who's dozed off.)
Roberts: No, really. (pause) I'm ser... (trying to stifle a laugh) ser... (cheeks puffing out) serious! (pause followed by paroxysmal guffawing) Sorry, Ruth. I have to say, though, that we all have terrific health insurance, so the new law doesn't matter to us. Or shouldn't matter. Or won't matter. Or... what's the matter, Ruth?
Ginsberg: I'm dying, and it's not supposed to matter? That's what's the matter. You're such a putz!
Roberts: Putz? I'm not familiar...
Ginsberg: It's Yiddish.
Sotomayor: For "Republican." (winks at Ginsberg)
Alito: (sneers at Sotomayor) That's not true!
Roberts: Well! Moving on. Steven?
Breyer: Tony and I discussed some of the issues that come into play here during our debates a couple of years ago, and ....
Scalia: And I whipped your ass. (smiles broadly) Even the groupies liked me better!
Thomas: (eyes open upon hearing "groupies") Huh? Any videos? ......... Of the uh, debates, I mean.
Kennedy: (excitedly) Groupies? Were there many of them?
Kennedy: (animatedly) What were they like? Were they fresh? Were they pretty? (panting a bit) Were they (becoming breathless), were they (closes his eyes and pauses) YOUNG? (quivers briefly)
Thomas: (muttering to himself as he begins to nod off - "Long dong silver, awaaay!")
Breyer: (thinking to himself - "Nope. I would NOT stoop that low. There's GOT to be someone else I can look good against.")
(Kagan begins humming Jim Croce's "Roller Derby Queen" to herself)
Roberts: Please continue, Steven.
Breyer: As I was saying, there are complex issues at play here, but after careful consideration [legalese ... "commerce clause" .... more legalese ... "expansive" ... more legalese ... "general welfare" ... more legalese .... "Hamiltonian" ... more legalese .... "precedent" ....] clearly constitutional. (smiles weakly)
Kagan: (lip synching while nodding in time) "Round and round, oh round and round..."
Roberts: Thank you, Steven. Sam?
Alito: (sneering at Breyer) I agree with Ronald Reagan. Obamacare is socialized medicine and....
Ginsberg: (dope slapping her forehead) Ronald Reagan is DEAD! Understand? Capisce? Reagan. Is. DEAD! He died well before this law was even contemplated! His existence is immaterial, irrelevant and.....whatever! (coughs)
Alito: (sneering at Ginsberg) That's not true! And even if it is, his spirit lives on, and....
Breyer: (smiling) Frankly, Sam, I fail to see what our debate has to do with Ronald Reagan's spirit.
Alito: (sneering at Breyer) Of course you would. You and all the other commie terrorists....
Breyer: (smiling serenely) I take umbrage...
Kagan: (singing almost inaudibly to herself - "....five foot six an' two fifteen / A bleached blond mama wit' a streak of mean. / She knew how to knuckle an' she knew how to scuffle an' fight...")
Roberts: Please, everyone, no interruptions. Sam, you may have crossed the line a bit there. Please continue.
Alito: (sneering at Roberts) My point is quite elementary. Our constitution does not permit SOCIALISM! (con brio) This law MANDATES socialized medicine! (agitato) UNCONSTITUTIONAL!! (vehemently) PERIOD!! (belligerently) Ronald Reagan WARNED us!!! (eyes rolling back in his head) MEIN FUHRER!!! (right arm straightens and begins to rise)
Scalia: (grabbing Alito's arm) Easy does it, Sam.
Alito: (sneering at Scalia) Was ist das! Wer bist du? (pauses; recovering himself, looks around the room and slowly lowers his arm) As I said, unconstitutional! (sniffs contemptuously)
Breyer: (smiling, thinking to himself - "Maybe I could handle HIM in a debate. Hmmmmmm. But what if he goes off when we're on the road?! Oy, oy, oy. Such tsuris I don't need.")
Kagan: (resumes singing to herself - "And the roller derby program said / That she was built like a 'frigerator with a head. / Her fans call her 'Tuffy' / But all her buddies call her...")
Roberts: Elena, I don't know what you're muttering, but it's time for your.....
Kagan: (abruptly pounds table) Spike! (pounds table again) Call me "Spike!"
(Alito sneers at Kagan)
Roberts: Elena, I...
Kagan: Spike! Unless you want me to call you ..... (smile spreads across her face) "J-Bobs."
Sotomayor: (enthusiastically) Cojones! Brass cojones! You go, girl! (grins)
Roberts: Very well, Ele..... (glare from Kagan) ...Spike.
Kagan: Right-o! This thing has got to be constitutional. I was solicitor general when we drew it up. And even if Congress fucked it up....
(Alito's eyes bug out as he sneers at Kagan)
Kagan: Sorry, guys. Even if Congress, errr, took certain liberties...
Ginsberg: (quietly) Congress is great at taking liberties.....like abortion.
Sotomayor: (quietly) And the Patriot Act.
Kagan: ...certain liberties with the language, our intent remains clear. And I'm not gonna rule my own law unconstitutional. Now don't bother me any more. (resumes lip synching) Round and round / Oh round and round....
Roberts: Hmmph1 I believe our discussion here deserves a more formal tone. Justice Sotomayor, what have you to say?
Sotomayor: (glaring at Roberts) It's not Soto-MAY-jor! My name isn't an army rank! For the umpteenth time, it's soto-mah-YOR! (pause) Screw it up again, gringo, and I'LL be calling your ass "J-Bobs!"
Roberts: I apologize, Sonia. I occasionally have some difficulty remembering esoteric nuances of phraseology.
Scalia: (grinning broadly) Yeah, like the presidential oath of office. (pause) Sorry, John, I couldn't resist.
(Alito sneers at Scalia)
Roberts: Tony, it only appeared that way. It was actually a rather clever ploy, if I do say so myself.... And I do. I used my responsibility to administer the oath of office as an opportunity to test our new president without him having a chance to prepare. I simply changed the wording a bit, knowing he knew the actual text by heart. When I appeared to make a mistake, he had the opportunity to repeat that mistake or affirm what he knew to be the truth. We all saw him follow my lead. And I must say, that little drama has been quite the bellwether. Wouldn't you agree?
(Scalia smiles and nods.)
Alito: (smiles) Well done, mein chief justice. (right arm quivers) That's just how Ronald Reagan beat the commies! (sneers at Sotomayor)
Breyer: (forcing a smile, thinking to himself - "Not even if he begged! Not even if he let me have all the money! Not even if he let me have all the groupies! It just wouldn't be worth the humiliation. Too damn clever! Not that John'd ever go on tour in the first place.")
Scalia: Oh boy, I can't wait to tell Cheney. It'll cheer him up more than a new heart.
Roberts: Please do, Tony. I'm rather proud of it. (pause) Now, back to you, Ms. Soto...ahh...Sonia.
Sototmayor: And another thing. I was here before Elena. You should have let me go before her.
Alito: (sneering) You're lucky you're here at all. If it weren't for affirmative action....
Breyer: Please, Sam. Please, Sonia. Can't we all just get along? (smiles)
Roberts: Sorry about that, Sonia. I confess to having been beguiled by Elena's muttering. Or humming. Whatever it was. Please go on.
Sotomayor: It seems to me that only the most cold-hearted, unfeeling person could fail to see all the good this law does. And it does so for the people who need it most. As a diabetic, I feel their pain. As a woman, I feel their pain. As a minority, I feel their pain. As a somewhat overweight, late middle-aged...
Alito: (sneering) The constitution doesn't care how you feel.
Sotomayor: As I said, only the most cold-hearted, unempathetic person...
Alito: I may not be empathetic, but I AM smart! (sniffs loudly, sneers)
Sotomayor: You may be smart, but you're not WISE!
Alito: (still sneering) I may not be what YOUR people call "wise," but I AM American.
Sotomayor: And what is THAT supposed to mean?
Alito: Soto-mah-YOR? (sneers) Doesn't sound American to me. Sounds foreign. Sounds immigrant. Sounds ILLEGAL immigrant.
Sotomayor: That would be almost funny, coming from someone with a last name of ALITO!
Alito: Papers please! (grins, then sneers) You weren't even appointed by a LEGITIMATE American president! (con brio) How does it feel, sitting there knowing you owe your job to some foreign born, (agitato) MUSLIM PRETENDER (vivace) who pals around with TERRORISTS? (face turning red, foaming at the mouth) Huh? (uses sleeve to wipe spittle from chin) MEIN GOTT! (right arm straightens, begins to tremble)
Ginsberg: You're a putz, Sam, you know that?
Sotomayor: Thanks, girlfriend!
Roberts: Sonia, please go on. Sam just goes off sometimes, but he's a good guy. Really, he is. And please don't take what he said about the president seriously. If Obama says he's American and that's good enough for Boehner, it's good enough for me. And the constitution probably allows Muslims to be president, so you're ok there.
Sotomayor: Constitutional! The health care law is constitutional! I'm done. (glares at Alito, who's just finished tidying up his chin and is inspecting his sleeve)
Roberts: Very well. As things stand now, we're four to three in favor of letting the law stand. (smirks)
Thomas: (suddenly alert) But....but...... (looks down at his fingers) but four to three, that doesn't make nine! (looks pleadingly at Scalia) Does it?
(Scalia shakes his head, mouths a "no")
Thomas: I knew it! (sits back in his chair, smiling)
Roberts: Thank you, Clarence. We have a couple of innings left. As I said earlier, Anthony will go last, which means it's now my turn at bat. After listening to all of you, it's my opinion that this decision must turn mainly on (dramatic pause) precedent.
(Gasps from all, except Kagan, eyes closed and still lip synching, and Kennedy, self-absorbed.)
Roberts: I believe we each invoked our fidelity to stare decisis - the great weight which precedent is given, Clarence - at our confirmation hearings.
Thomas - (fondles the Coca-Cola bottle in front of him, then picks it up and appears to inspect it) No one asked me about that at my hearing. All they cared about was whatever her name had to say. (appears to have found something stuck on the bottle, which he lifts off daintily with thumb and forefinger, holds up to the light, then puts in his mouth) Mmmmmmmmmm. (swallowing) Things go better with Coke!
(Alito sneers at Thomas.)
Roberts: Ahem. Now, in light of our regard for precedent, the claim for this law's constitutionality would seem to be on firm ground. BUT... even from before I got here, in Bush v. Gore, to my first major trium.... er, decision, Citizens United, it ought to be clear that THIS court has set a precedent for IGNORING precedent. And THAT is the precedent to which we must adhere. In a case of such importance, in a case with such consequential consequences, failure to follow our own precedent for ignoring precedent would be (pause) unprecedented! Clearly, we can't allow ourselves to set such a poor precedent. (self-satisfied smirk)
(Scalia smiles broadly. Thomas appears puzzled, glances at Scalia, then smiles. Alito smiles, then sneers in Sotomayor's direction. Ginsberg shakes her head, takes out a handkerchief and coughs into it loudly and deeply. Sotomayor pats Ginsberg's back, appears to give Alito the evil eye. Breyer smiles weakly, gazes up at the ceiling. Kagan opens her eyes, notes others' expressions, gives Roberts the finger, closes her eyes and resumes lip synching. Kennedy appears lost in thought.)
Sotomayor: John, I think Ruth needs to use the bathroom.
Roberts: We're almost done. Ruth, you can hold it. Well, now. It seems to be up to you, Anthony.
Kennedy: John, why don't you go ahead and let Ruth go potty. I'm still mulling this over.
Roberts: Very well, Anthony. Ruth, you're excused.
(Ginsberg and Sotomayor both rise)
Roberts: I said Ruth could go. I didn't say both of you could.
Sotomayor: I have to help my sister here, something you white men apparently don't unders....
Roberts: Watch it, Sonia. What we white men understand is power! And I'm not ENTIRELY certain that your appointment to this bench is legitimate, so if you know what's good for you........ (Ginsberg coughs loudly) Oh, what the hell, go ahead.
Kennedy: (eyes closed, thinking to himself - "Let's see here. On one side we have a good argument against constitutionality. But then I'd be aligning myself with Clarence. Again. My kids told me they'd stop speaking to me if I kept on doing agreeing with that bozo. Besides, the argument for constitutionality is also pretty good. And Breyer's almost smart enough to make it. Except Tony's smarter, so I've got some cover on that side. But I just don't feel it's right to.....)
(cell phone rings)
Scalia: 'S up, Dick? ..... It's ok, we're kind of taking a break .... Oh? ... Oh? .... I'm sorry to hear that .... No, no firm plans right now ... A whole month is quite a stretch, but.... The Federalist Society'll pay for the entire thing? ... I'm just not sure I can ... I know you're lonely ... Yes, you did save us from WMDs when you were presiden.... No, I do care... Really ... A lot ...... Dick, please don't threaten, it's not.... Do I hear a "please"? ...... Uh huh. Pretty please? ..... Uh-huh. And with sugar on top? ...... C'mon, Dick, with sugar on top?? .... Well, in that case, sure, I'll do it .... You're really positive that the Society'll pay, right? I mean more positive than you were about Saddam and those WMDs .... Ok, dude, you got a deal! ... Yeah, see ya' soon.
(everyone looks at Scalia)
Scalia: Dick.... I mean presid.... I mean vice president Cheney just found out that his heart transplant is a no-go. Seems like the doctors decided his chest cavity isn't large enough for a normal heart. Instead, they told him to spend a long while resting. He's invited me to spend a month with him at the Federalist Society's summer camp. I'm gonna be jurist in residence. How cool is that! (pause) Oh, Steven, that means I won't be able to whip your ass again on the debate circuit this year. Sorry about that, but I'm sure you can find someone more, uh, suitable for your, er, talents. (chortles softly)
Breyer: (smiling brightly) Tony, you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm hopeful there'll be SOMEONE here who wouldn't mind a not-so-little bit of CASH and the chance to look smart in front of live audiences. (slowly looks around the table)
Kennedy: (eyes still closed, still thinking to himself - "....What was that? A 'not-so-little bit of cash,' eh? More money would be nice. I mean, we haven't had a raise since, well, last year.... But still. Hmmmm, if I vote FOR Breyer's side, why would he debate me? Who'd wanna see a debate between people who agree? But if I vote AGAINST him, wouldn't he HAVE to consider me? John would never do it, and, besides, he's too smart. Clarence spends his summers in his RV, and, besides, he's too dumb. Gotta wonder about Sam, though....... Buuuuut,,,,,,, Y'know, all it would take is one Hitler salute and the whole thing'd blow up. Yeah, Breyer MUST understand that...")
(Ginsberg and Sotomayor return, quietly sit down)
Kennedy: (eyes still closed, continuing his thoughts - "...Geez, he's GOTTA pick me. So it comes down to money. I suppose it's probably not good form to ask now, but it would take quite a bundle to compensate for having my kids shut me out of their lives forever ....... Darn, I just hate having to make a choice based on incomplete information .... And I love my children ..... A-and following one's conscience isn't a bad thing ............ Oh well, even if the money's good, it's probably for the best...")
Scalia: And don't forget the groupies!
(Breyer nods, still smiling)
Kennedy: (eyes pop open, displays a twenty-four tooth shiteater) Unconstitutional! UNCONSTITUTIONAL! (beginning to pant) REALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL! (stands) TOTALLY REALLY!! (flushed and nearly breathless) UN! CONS! TIT! (snicker from Thomas) U! TION! (hoarsely) AL! (plops down into his chair, seemingly exhausted, and thinks to himself as his eyes gradually close - "Ahhhh, Groupies! Fresh! Pretty! Young! GROUPIES! Fresh! Pretty! YOUNG! GROUPIES! Fresh! PRETTY! YOUNG! GROUPIES!" )
(everyone staring at Kennedy)
Kennedy: (beginning to sit up straight) FRESH! PRETTY! YOUN... (opening his eyes) ...uhhh... mmm... errrrr...... I believe ..... my .... uh ... position is .... clear.
(Breyer, smiling more brightly, pauses in mid-fist pump, slowly lowers his arm and equips himself with a suitably sober expression.)
Scalia: No doubt about THAT! (laughs heartily)
Roberts: Anthony, that was.... that was..... quite a..... remarkable... display... of...... legal reasoning. (pause) Well now, I'm pretty good at calling balls and strikes, and it looks to me like five to four for the good guys. (grins meaningfully at Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan in turn) Game over! Thanks to all of you. Mmmmm, I'll assign myself to write the majority opinion. But I suppose you already knew that. Fellow justices, we stand adjourned! See you next week.
(A flutter of murmurs, as everyone stands, gathering papers, except for Thomas, who holds only his Coke bottle. With all deliberate speed, they begin to filter out. Alito is through the door first, striding briskly, exuding an air of self-importance. Abruptly, he glances back and sees Sotomayor, who has her arm around Ginsberg's shoulder. Alito sneers and turns back around. Ginsberg, her shoulders heaving a bit, holds her handkerchief up to her mouth as she and Sotomayor make their way out. Behind them, Breyer can be heard talking to Kennedy as they head to the door)
Breyer: Anthony, I was wondering if you've made any plans for the summer. You know, (voices fading) Tony and I .... debates ..... easy money ..... groupies.... (voice fades out; Kennedy is seen gesturing vigorously)
(Kagan and Scalia have paused in the doorway)
Kagan: .....regular poker game at my place. Every Tuesday. Plenty of cigars and scotch. Lotsa fun, Tony.
Scalia: Sounds delightful, Spike. I'll bring some munchies. By the way, 'd you hear the one about...
(Voice fades out as they turn and resume walking. Thomas, Coke bottle in hand, trails at Scalia's heels. A burst of laughter from Kagan is heard.)
Roberts: (now alone in the room, finishes gathering his papers, reaches the door, turns around to survey the scene one last time) YES!!!! (flicks off the lights, turns back around, strides off with the door still open)
(about five minutes later)
Disembodied male voice singing: (gradually growing louder) Gonna tell you a story that you won't believe, / But I fell in love last Friday evenin' / Wit' a girl I saw on the bar room TV screen. / I was just gettin' ready to get my hat / When she caught my eye an' I put it back, / (Roberts comes into focus, approaching the open conference room door) An' I ordered myself a couple o' more shots an' beers. / The night that I fell in love wit' a roll-er derby queen. / Round an' round, oh round and round. / The meanest hunk o' woman / That anybody ever seeeeeeen. / Down in the arena!/ (Roberts closes the door, turns, proceeds back down the hall) Round an' round, oh round an' round. / Round an' round, oh round an' round. / (voice fading) Round and round, oh round an' round.... (begins whistling; hall lights go off; sound slowly fades away)