Justices Take Historic Vote Today


By Hadley Heath

Although their decision will not become public until late June, the nine Justices will conference today to take a vote on the health care case.

If you are as much of a Supreme Court nerd as I am, you'll be curious how this conference goes.  There's not a lot of argument or discussion.  Just a simple vote, and the Justices may say a couple of sentences each.  After the vote, the opinion-writing assignments will be made.  For more details on how this conference typically goes, check out this AP story:

By custom, they shake hands. Then Roberts will take his seat at the head of a rectangular table. Scalia, the longest serving among them, will be at the other end. The other seven justices also sit according to seniority, the four most junior on one side across from the other three.

"They generally find out how the votes line up at the conference," said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor who worked for Justice Anthony Kennedy nine years ago.

The uncertainty may be especially pronounced in this case, where the views of Roberts and Kennedy are likely to decide the outcome, Kerr said in an interview Thursday. "I don't think anyone knows. I'm not sure Justice Kennedy knows."

No one's vote counts more than the others', but because they speak in order of seniority, it will become clear fairly quickly what will become of the health care overhaul.

That's because Roberts speaks first, followed by Scalia, then Kennedy. If the three men hold a common view, the Obama health care overhaul probably is history. If they don't, it probably survives.



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