Obama’s Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, has rough start at health care oral arguments

Obama’s Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, has rough start at health care oral arguments

By Liz Goodwin

The Lookout

March 27, 2012

Supreme Court justices battered Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., with questions today, prodding him to explain why the government could compel Americans to buy health care insurance and not, for example, force them to purchase broccoli or burial insurance.

Verrilli appeared to stumble over his words at the beginning of his hourlong questioning, and took a drink of water less than a minute after beginning his statement before composing himself. After the oral arguments were over, some court watchers weren’t exactly kind when assessing his performance.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that the day’s arguments were a “train wreck” for the Obama administration and that Verrilli seemed unprepared. “I don’t know why he had a bad day,” he said. “He is a good lawyer, he was a perfectly fine lawyer in the really sort of tangential argument yesterday. He was not ready for the answers for the conservative justices.”

Time Magazine writer Kate Pickert wrote on Twitter that Verrilli “lost his footing a bit,” relying on the liberal Justices to remind the other Justices of the key arguments for the law. Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein said Verrilli “lost big.”

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