Mark Sherman of the AP describes the process by which the Court makes it’s decision.It’s pretty simple:
After months of anticipation, thousands of pages of briefs and more than six hours of arguments, the justices will vote on the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in under an hour Friday morning. They will meet in a wood-paneled conference room on the court’s main floor. No one else will be present.
In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other’s draft opinions and dissents.
But Friday’s vote, which each justice probably will record and many will keep for posterity, will be followed soon after by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices to tackle different issues. That’s where the hard work begins, with the clock ticking toward the end of the court’s work in early summer.
There is very little ceremony, but what little there is adds a bit of drama. From Sherman’s report:
It will be the first time the justices gather as a group to discuss the case. Even they do not always know what the others are thinking when they enter the conference room adjacent to Chief Justice John Roberts’ office.
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.
The Supreme Court prizes confidentiality and has a very solid record of not letting their decisions “leak” before the opinions are written. Although it will be tough on all the law clerks and family members who get calls from the press between now and June.
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