I was queried about the poor performance of Solicitor General Don Verrilli based upon oral argument during day two on the Individual Mandate as critiqued by Mother Jones. Attorney Verrilli stumbled, coughed, stammered and was less than elegant in his performance yesterday. Sadly, the media has decided that the outcome of this mega-historic case balances on the performance of the attorneys. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Article after article has critiqued Verrilli and his opponent as if they are actors quoting Shakespeare—and in some ways, they should be able to deliver their message with perfect pitch and be able to roll with the questions, the interruptions, the spotlight. But that didn’t happen. Why not?
We could blame it on stage fright–it possibly being the biggest case of his life. But the explanation is probably much simpler. He was appointed to replace Supreme Court Justice Kagan and had excellent credentials as a superior COPYRIGHT attorney. I am certain that when arguing the intricacies of copyright law (a subject that could bore paint off a wall), he’s spectacular or at least it is of no matter if he suffers performance dysfunction (PD). But here, he was putting forth the argument for millions of Americans without health care—in a civil trial-like atmosphere. And he failed to deliver what the media hoped to be a knockout punch.
But does that mean that his performance or lack thereof is the be all–end all? No. Not even of much import at all. Oral argument is mostly for show—-each Justice has read hundreds of pages prepared by their clerks of documents summarizing thousands of pages of submissions by all sides including amicus curiae (friends of the court). The argument is SCOTUS’s show case for themselves—and the attorneys unfortunately are props and in some cases punching bags but they wouldn’t even be eligible for a supporting actor nod come Oscar time.
Don’t let the performance of one attorney be what you hang your hat on—these men and women were merely positioning for the cameras, the media and you. They know exactly how they intend to rule on this matter. Never let the media tell you otherwise.