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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Supreme Court Rules on Health Care
Aired June 28, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Thanks very much.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Our special coverage of the biggest U.S. Supreme Court decision in decades.
Next hour, right near the top of the hour, these nine justices will announce their decision on the bitterly divisive health care reform law. Their rulings on the law will not only shape the legacy of the court, but also the Obama presidency. It will carve new battle lines in this fall's presidential election. And most importantly, it will impact your health and your choices.
It's almost impossible to overstate how important next hour's announcement is. We have complete coverage to break it down for all of you. Our crews are covering every angle from coast to coast.
Let's go to the White House, though, first. There's some breaking news coming out. Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is standing by.
Jessica, what are you learning about the president's intention today?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, President Obama will be in the Oval Office receiving his daily briefing when the Supreme Court ruling comes down. He'll be there with the vice president, his chief of staff, and the men who usually brief him, the heads of his national security team, Tom Donilon, John Brennan and others.
I understand that the president will give remarks. I expect it to be in the nature of a speech and the White House is prepared for a number of different contingencies. They are prepared for the possibility that this would be fully upheld, obviously, fully struck down, and then something in between. Possibly a version of the mandate getting struck down in which case we would expect to hear the president focus on the other benefits of the law that would, they insist, still stand if that's the only piece that's struck down.
The president, I can tell you, Wolf, has reviewed parts of -- he heard parts of the oral arguments. He also reviewed the transcripts as they have said publicly of the oral arguments and the White House aides maintain that while the president believes this is constitutional, firmly believes it, believes it should be upheld, they say he would not be surprised if it's not -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, and we know that he's a former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School so he's obviously up to speed on a lot of the legal issues.
Do we have a tentative time, Jessica, when we might be hearing from the president?
YELLIN: We don't, Wolf. And I think that's understandable given the fact that they will have to, like all of us, review the decision. It is unlikely to be very simple, right? And so no doubt it will go to their legal team and they'll have to parse through it. And if it's very straightforward, I imagine we'll hear from him very quickly but if it is not, it will take some time, I imagine, before we hear from him.
He does have a schedule to leave the White House later this afternoon and visit wounded military service members who were wounded in action, so no doubt we will hear from him before he does that later this afternoon. But no exact time yet, Wolf. I will keep you posted.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jessica. We'll stay in close touch with you.
Certainly, this is the signature issue, the signature legislative issue that the president enacted in his first term so the stakes for him, indeed, for the country, are enormous.
Let's go over to John King right now. He's over at the U.S. Supreme Court watching this historic morning unfold.
John, the stakes for everyone, I think, politically and much more importantly for the country as a whole, are enormous.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every American out there, Wolf, every American watching our coverage today, and maybe not watching our coverage today, maybe they're at work, maybe it's a young American at school, maybe it's someone who just got out of college, who can't find a job, who's on their parents' health insurance right now, 22, 23, 24 years old.
Every American has a huge policy stake in what happens today. And of course the 132 days away from the presidential election we know this is defining political issue, as well.
You see the court behind me. The justices in about an hour will let us know. And they have several choices, Wolf. They can rule the entire Obama health care law, the Affordable Care Act, they could say it's constitutional and let it stand. Then nothing changes in the sense that the law is still in effect and other provisions that have yet to be implemented kick in between now and 2014.
If they do that, then no insurance company can deny you coverage for a preexisting condition. Those young Americans 24, 25 can stay on the parents' health care until they're 26. No longer could an insurance company say you get a lifetime dollar limits on your benefits and then we cut you off. If they keep the law. If they uphold it.
If they throw it out, they have choices, as you know, Wolf. They could throw the whole thing out which would send the debate back do Congress, back into the political sphere, or they could say just the individual mandate, for example, is unconstitutional. If they do that, that takes up the money. A lot of the financing in the bill. A lot of people say how could the law survive?
But the White House already this morning distributing, you know, talking points in paper saying if they just throw out parts of it, many of those provisions I just talked about, and some of them quite popular. Much of the law is unpopular with the public. But some of those provisions are popular.
Some of them could stand. So we have a lot of different options, a lot of different choices. As you noted, this is the signature policy initiative of the president's first term so he has a lot, from a policy standpoint, obviously an enormous amount from a political standpoint at stake.
Jess just said we'll hear from the president later today. We'll also hear from Governor Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger.
And, Wolf, the Supreme Court is behind me. The United States Capitol is in front of me. Trust me. This building is full of anticipation for what happens to the court. You'll see both Democrats and Republicans reacting.
I want to bring in our congressional correspondent who has become our deputy Supreme Court correspondent, we might say, Kate Bolduan, who is outside the court.
And Kate, if you listen to the oral arguments in this case, immediately after the oral arguments, the conventional wisdom was wow, the justices were so skeptical. They're going to throw out all or parts of this. In recent days, though, the thinking, the -- the guessing, I guess, if you call it, among veteran court watchers, they shifted a bit, right?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the speculation has gone and kicked up to a notch that we haven't seen in quite a while. I mean Jeff and I were here together, Jeffrey Toobin and I were here together after oral arguments, both saying the same thing. That from oral arguments it appeared as if the individual mandate was in trouble. The -- the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had a very hard time. He got some very tough questions and had a difficult time in some instances crafting a clear answer to some of the questions that were being asked.
But, as we always say, oral arguments is not the end -- end all, do all, be all when it comes to a Supreme Court case. No one knows, except for the Supreme Court justices and their clerks, the conversations and the debate that has gone on behind close doors now for months as they have been crafting their arguments.
A lot can happen between oral arguments and between decision day. Anyone is -- what the long -- the off-quoted statement around here, anyone who knows is not talking, anyone who is talking does not know. A lot of speculation, a lot of -- a lot of good guessing and smart guessing, but again, we will have to wait and see come 10:00.
KING: Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst, you're going to be in the court when this plays out. I'm very jealous of you this morning.
Help -- do a better job than I just did and try to explain to our people that the court has many options. It could uphold the law, it could throw out parts of it, it could throw out the entire thing. Go back -- go through the different scenarios as the court, as we prepare to find out, just what the justices decided.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, it's worth remembering today most of the time when people challenge the constitutionality of an act of Congress the court rejects that challenge. And upholds the law. It's a very big deal, it's a very unusual deal that when the Supreme Court of the United States strikes down a law that was passed by the democratically elected members of Congress and signed by the democratically elected president.
The unelected Supreme Court quite rightly considers it a very major and unusual step to declare a law unconstitutional. So most of the time they simply affirm the law. The other alternative, the extreme on the other end is for the court to say, the parts of this law that are unconstitutional are so bound up with the rest of it that all 27 pages -- 2700 pages of the law have to go and Congress, if it wants to deal with this issue, has to start from scratch.
Those are the two sort of clearest options.
TOOBIN: The -- the more complicated is the striking down part of it. Because then the administration and all the rest of us will have to figure out how the rest of the law can work if it can work.
KING: High stakes for the court. High stakes for the president. High stakes for the Congress, as well.
Wolf, we're waiting less than an hour away now. It's the final day of what has been a very consequential Supreme Court term, and on this final day, they will issue the most consequential ruling and put a stamp not only on our presidential campaign, a big policy issue for all Americans, and a big test, if you will, for the Roberts court today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I just want to be precise. I'm getting questions from some of our viewers. And maybe if you don't know the answer, maybe Jeffrey Toobin knows the answer then. I think I know the answer but there is no heads up as a courtesy that the Supreme Court gives the president of the United States on their decision. The president will learn of this decision when the rest of us learn of the decision, is that right, John?
KING: That is my --
KING: -- what I believe and Jeff Toobin will be in the court --
KING: -- who I guess will know before the president of the United States.
TOOBIN: Well, and there's actually -- and sort of an odd fact about today's festivities is that there are actually three cases that are going to be decided today.
TOOBIN: Two of them are actually fairly minor. One involves standing, who has a right to sue in certain cases, the other involves unusual law called the Stolen Valor Act about whether you can be criminally prosecuted if you claim to have military awards that you don't, whether that law is constitutional.
And if John Roberts issues the opinion, as most of us expect he will, the health care case will be third because they always announce the opinions in reverse seniority order and the chief justice is always considered the most senior member of the court. So some -- two of the associate justices will read those two other cases. We'll probably get the health care case if the chief justice writes it at about 10:15 or 10:20.
BOLDUAN: And we still don't know if it's one, two, three, four --
TOOBIN: How -- you're right.
BOLDUAN: How -- how it's going to come out --
TOOBIN: Because they argued it in so many -- you know, over six hours. Very unusual for the court.
TOOBIN: So we don't know if the court is going to issue one big opinion or several smaller opinions. President doesn't get a heads up and we don't get a heads up.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, guys. We'll all be watching, as I say, as you say, and I think you're right. These other two relatively minor decisions will be announced first then the major one on health care will be announced probably around 10:15 or so. We're going to have extensive live coverage leading up to that.
Eight of the justices are likely to be split on whether the health care law is constitutional. If that's the case, this man is likely to be the swing vote. Who exactly is Justice Anthony Kennedy? He was appointed by President Reagan and has sat on the court since 1988. He's considered right-leaning -- a right-leaning justice but often swings to the left on some hot-button examples. Some examples, the death penalty, abortion and immigration. His case-by-case approach has earned him unflattering nicknames like the "Flipper" and the "Errant Voyager."
During the oral arguments in March, by the way, he asked tough questions of both sides. We'll all be watching Justice Anthony Kennedy. We'll also be watching the Chief Justice John Roberts to see what he does. He could be -- he could very decisive, obviously, in this, as well. And maybe not necessarily predictable.
If you're away from your TV, you can still keep up with CNN's extensive coverage of this historic day and it is historic. Log on to our live blog. CNN.com/thisjustin. We're continually -- continually updating with analysis, reaction, tweets from our army of reporters, and of course we want you to share your thoughts, as well.
This morning, the other big stories also up on Capitol Hill, an unprecedented House vote is scheduled for later today. At issue, whether to hold the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress.
Holder mingled with lawmakers last night at the White House Annual Congressional Picnic. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, already has more than 7,000 documents on the government's botched "Fast and Furious" gun sting operation. Issa's committee, though, is demanding more documents.
President Obama has asserted privilege preventing some of the documents in dispute from being turned over.
We're watching that story unfold. We expect, by the way, the vote on the House floor, if it happens, to be during the 4:00 p.m. Eastern hour. We'll have live coverage in "THE SITUATION ROOM" during the 4:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
In about one hour, though, we'll know the U.S. Supreme Court's history-making decision on health care. We're following every angle of the story, including how it will impact you, how it could impact the presidential election.
Our coverage will continue in a moment.
BLITZER: We are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's health care law. So, what are the American people thinking about it?
Last month's CNN/ORC poll, the majority of Americans, 51 percent, said they oppose the law, only 43 percent said they favor it. If the Supreme Court rules part or all of the health care law is unconstitutional, it could be seen as a major win for Mitt Romney.
Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is over at a Romney event in Washington, D.C..
The ruling is significantly politically, Jim, as you know. There's a lot at stake for Romney and certainly for President Obama.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I should say we expect Mitt Romney to make some kind of statement about the health care ruling but it's not a guarantee. We don't have a confirmed event from the Romney campaign that something is actually going to take place, but we do expect him to say something as he did the other day after the immigration ruling over at the Supreme Court.
But, Wolf, I will tell you that he was sort of warming up some attack lines yesterday in Virginia, at a campaign event, out in exurbs of northern Virginia, he went right after the president, not really talking about the constitutionality of the health care law but basically accusing the president of what he called a moral failure of going after health care reform instead of fixing the economy coming in to office.
And that has been sort of the Romney argument for the last several days. You will recall earlier this week he said if the health care law is struck down, that the first couple of years of President Obama's administration has been a waste.
And so, what Mitt Romney I think will do coming out today is say, you know, no matter what the ruling is from the Supreme Court, because the president went after health care reform instead of fixing the economy, he sort of wasted a big opportunity to get the economy going again. That's what we expect to hear from Mitt Romney.
Now, the White House and the Obama campaign, they're obviously not letting that go un-responded to or not responded to. They have been putting out press releases. The Obama campaign press release last night saying that Mitt Romney would take the country back to a day of preexisting conditions were a problem for some people out there.
And the Romney campaign said, no, that's not the case. If he's elected, he will pass health care reform of his own kind -- of the kind that he would like to see and that would include some of those protections for consumers.
So, this could be a new stage of the campaign for both campaigns, Wolf, no matter what's decided at the Supreme Court today.
BLITZER: At some point, I assume they haven't told us yet but we'll hear as you say directly from Mitt Romney?
ACOSTA: I think that's still up in the air. We have not been told definitively that he will make an on-camera statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling. But I will -- I think we are expecting some kind of statement from Mitt Romney after the Supreme Court ruling. The campaign is being very close to the vest, very hush-hush as to what exactly he's planning to do after this ruling comes down, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta, we'll watch Romney's reaction coming in from the campaign and from the Republican presidential candidate.
These are live pictures by the way. You see people gathering in Washington, D.C. -- some in favor of the health care reform law, some opposed, protesters, pro and con. There is an incredible intensity on this day here in Washington.
As someone who covered the Supreme Court and Bush v. Gore in 2003 determining the winner of the 2000 presidential election, this is arguably the most intense moment in Supreme Court history since then. I think it's fair to say that this is a huge day.
Once, by the way, they gavel at 10:00 a.m. this morning, less than an hour from now, about 40 minutes or so from now, the chief justice will be inside. As we have been reporting, there are two relatively minor decisions which will go probably before the major decision on the constitutionality of the health care reform law.
We're going to be going in-depth. What is going to be happening inside the Supreme Court this morning? We're taking a closer look at the process. How things will play out.
Our coverage will continue in a moment.
KING: The decision now just minutes away. The nine justices of the United States Supreme Court deciding on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act -- many people in politics call it Obamacare.
Once we get the decision, we will look forward. How will it impact our politics? Will the Congress have to reconsider any parts of the law if the court throws them out? That's looking forward.
But let's look back a little bit. It was months ago as we await this big decision that the justices took this argument and they put the case under the microscope. They heard the oral arguments back in March.
As we await the decision today, let's take a look at the process. How it played out then and how it will play out in the next hour.
Tom Foreman is standing by with a closer look at that -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. This really is one of the unusual pageants that we see once in a while in Washington, D.C. and it is fascinating. All of this hidden from the TV cameras, so we'll tell you what's going to happen.
About a half hour from now, shortly before 10:00, the justices meet behind the red curtain. They put the robes on and they're all going to shake hands with each other. It's a little ceremony they do to remind each other we're all in this together, it's all for the country. We have to work together.
And then the justices will file out in to the room as they're introduced. They will take their places. About 300 people out here in the audience, 150 members of the general public, the rest of them VIPs, members of the bar and members of the press. In all likelihood as Wolf said a while ago, the chief justice dispense with the two other cases, that's why we won't have a decision right at 10:00, in all likelihood, and then turn to the health care matter.
Now, that is where we get in to the most interesting and secretive part of this government -- really, when you think about it, because the truth is that decision began in this room, right after those arguments, John.
You see nine chairs around the table. When we heard these oral arguments back in March, people all left and we all started talking about it on the air. The justices went in to this room by themselves, nobody else -- no clerks, nobody. And they sat around this table and they said, preliminary vote, where do you stand?
So at the end of this and a little bit of discussion, they knew right then what the decision was most likely to be. The chief justice, if he was on the winning side of that equation, he assigned someone to write the majority opinion. Minority folks decided on what they were going to do. It just depends on how that broke out.
And then went in to the next part of it, this is worth looking at because you had the oral arguments. That was the closed door conference. And then as the opinions were being written, they're circulated among these folks and all the different justices talk about them. And one justice might say, well, yes, I'm on this side, but if you're going to say that, I can't behind that. Or another justice might say, well, you have to say this, you must extend it further on one side or the other.
In that give and take, it's possible that the justices might change positions. It's not -- that's not an easy change to make but it could happen. So, there was some give and take as they went through the arguments.
Once they get through this, though, we come back to this morning -- and what will happen? After they have assembled and all that secret process has happened, once they get through the other two cases, Chief Justice Roberts if he is in the majority here will say, now, we will have the opinion. He will lay it out, and simultaneously paper copies of this will be given to the press in another room downstairs and this will be the law of the land -- John.
KING: Excellent look inside the process by Tom Foreman. Tom, this is perhaps the most -- without a doubt, the most secretive of the three branches of our government, and it is fascinating dynamic.
And you have the nine justices. They have been debating this for months. Their clerks know, some of the security officials know. None of this has leaked out.
We're just moments away from the most consequential decision of this term of the Supreme Court of the United States. We'll soon know what these nine justices think about Barack Obama's signature initiative, the first term, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, the ruling, just moments away.
Our special coverage will continue in just a moment.
BLITZER: All right. We are only about half an hour or so away from the top of the hour. History will unfold. You are looking at live pictures of the United States Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will decide whether the president's health care reform law that was signed in to law by this president of the United States is, in fact, constitutional -- whether it's in all constitutional, whether parts of it are constitutional, none of it constitutional.
We're going to get that decision near the top of the hour to relatively minor Supreme Court cases probably will be announced first.
They're going through extraordinary precautions to make sure there's no leak, no one gets advance word. Once the chief justice brings the other eight justices to that room, everyone is going to know at the same time what is going on.
We're also watching, by the way, for the opening bell on Wall Street right now. Stocks already heading for a weak opening as a two- day Euro Summit gets under way.
Pharmaceutical companies, by the way, insurance providers, as well, traders, others -- they are among those waiting and watching for the Supreme Court's ruling. What the Supreme Court decides within a half an hour or so, maybe 40 minutes, once we know what the Supreme Court decides, watch Wall Street. It could have a big impact.
Let's listen to the opening bell.
All right. We'll watch -- we'll see what happens on Wall Street as a result of all that's going on.
Joining us now, CNN contributor Will Cain and CNN political analyst Roland Martin.
Let's start with you, Roland. You said if the Supreme Court rules against the president's health care reform law, Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought you were tossing that one to Will.
Look, the issue that they clearly have is bottom line is they were in control of this situation. They had an opportunity to actually go to the public option. They chose the more controversial individual mandate.
And so, if they strike it down, now all of a sudden, you are in a much different position. The GOP controls the House. You don't have 60 votes in the Senate.
And so, if that then happens, what changes do you expect? I don't expect anything to change. And then the question then becomes: are we now in limbo? What then happens?
And so, I'm sure the administration is praying that if it's not -- if it's not allowed to stand, significant portions are allowed to stand, otherwise, they're going to have total mayhem trying to make an argument that the chief piece of legislation was health care and now it's not even a law of the land.
BLITZER: Will Cain, you are also an attorney and you have been doing an excellent job all morning explaining some of the very complex legal aspects of this historic case. Walk us through when's going through your mind right now. What do you expect in about half an hour, 40 minutes or so we will see?
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not to overstate this, Wolf, but I think we'll find out in a half hour is what is the limits of the federal government's power? That's what they're trying to define, that's the Supreme Court asked the government during oral arguments over and over, if you're allowed to force Americans to buy health insurance, what are you not allowed to do?
You heard examples from Justice Scalia saying can you force Americans to buy broccoli. You heard Justice Alito saying, can you force Americans to buy burial insurance? The argument from the government is no, no, no, but health care is different.
And that's what we're going to find out. Did the Supreme Court believe that, did they believe that the health care market, however that's defined, is different and they can expand the government's power then to require Americans to buy insurance?
BLITZER: Gloria Borger is here, as well, chief political analyst.
Gloria, there's going to be an enormous amount of political spinning after the Supreme Court reaches its -- all of our heads spinning. But here's my sense and tell me what you think. If the signature legislative accomplishment of the president goes down in full or in part, that's a huge embarrassment for the president, a major political setback --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is.
BLITZER: -- no matter what they try to say after this.
BORGER: Right. It is the administration's major domestic policy achievement, period. They spent over a year working on. If they lose even just the mandate --
BLITZER: Well, that's the heart of this.
BORGER: Of course. There won't be any way for them to spin that as a victory. What they'll do, though, is pivot and they'll turn to the Republicans and say, OK. We have now lost the mandate. Tell me how you are going to pay for those popular provisions such as coverage for preexisting conditions that people in this country want.
Tell me how you're going to pay to keep children on the parent's health care insurance. And they will go down the list.
And Republicans will say to them, you know what? We don't need to do that right now. We're not going to give you a 6,000-page bill in three days because that would be making the same mistake you made. We are going to wait until after the next election -- and attack this piece by piece.
But, Wolf, you know, it's also an interesting thing to look at from Mitt Romney's point of view. If the law is thrown out, he will claim victory. But he has to change the narrative of his campaign, because then he loses the rallying cry for all those Republicans and Romney supporter who is don't like what they call Obamacare.
MARTIN: I think it helps him. It would help him.
BORGER: Of course it does.
MARTIN: No, no, no. Losing the narrative. To Will's point, he can say this is a prime example of why the federal government can't overstep the bounds and he can say I was right to say it's state's rights.
BORGER: He can claim incompetence on the part of President Obama and changes the narrative of the campaign. He has to turn.
BLITZER: We're just going to have -- we're going to know within half an hour or so what the nine justices of the Supreme Court have decided. We are standing by.
We'll have obviously extensive live coverage leading up to this historic decision and complete analysis -- not necessarily easy to discern what's decided. It could be very complex. We'll try to break it down for you in understandable ways.
Everyone will be watching. Stand by. Our coverage will resume in a moment.
KING: We are about 30 minutes away now from the most consequential decision of this very important term of the Supreme Court. You see the building behind me. Within the half hour, we will learn whether the nine justices believe the signature initiative of President Obama's first term, the Affordable Care Act, whether or not that law is constitutional. We will find out in about half an hour.
But the justices have known for months. Their clerks have known for months. Much of the staff of the Supreme Court has known for months and yet in a town where leaks are so common, that secret has been kept.
Here's a little secret for you, the opinions were printed last night, brought over to the clerk's office this morning, under lock and key, a highly secure environment. Again, remarkable in a town like Washington that none of this leaked.
Let's talk to somebody that knows the pressure of the process. John Bash join us from Pittsburgh.
You were a clerk, sir, for Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the more controversial, one of the more outspoken, one some critics say of the more political justices on the United States Supreme Court.
First, talk about that pressure, when you accept the job, how's it stressed to you that you must under all circumstances keep everything secret?
JOHN BASH, ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY: Well, it's well-known. I mean, even before you take the clerkship, the message is sent that any leak would be totally unacceptable. There were stories that during the Burger Court in the '70s there were some leaks of big cases and it's really looked down upon.
It's hard to imagine any clerk for any justice leaking it. You have very little to gain. And if it comes out that you're the leaker, it just looks terrible for the legal career and it's really betraying the trust that the justice that hired you placed in you.
KING: Take us inside this process. Any case that the Supreme Court agrees to hear is by the very nature a very important but this case is particularly special. Bush v. Gore was a big case. What is it like?
The justices and I assume the clerks know this one is extra special. How are the stakes different? How are the conversations different? How are the pressures different?
BASH: Well, I can speak from personal experience because I was in the position of a lot of the clerks right now at the last day of the term four years ago. The big opinion that year was District of Columbia versus Heller, which as you probably remember was the case that held for the first time the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms. And like the case today, it came down the last day of the term, clerks and justices were scrambling, going opinions back and forth the last week of the term.
And the excitement of today was just unbelievable. I mean, walking in to the courtroom, knowing and it was my justice that was reading the opinion, knowing that an opinion of a historical proportions, a constitutional opinion is coming down today that it's going to be all over the news. I remember right after the opinion came down, I looked up on Drudge Report, and it was the big headline, it said the shot heard around the world or something like that.
It's a tremendously exciting day. And, you know, going back to the leak thing. I wouldn't have dreamed of leaking that. I don't think any of the clerks here would think of doing that for this case.
KING: You called him your justice. Antonin Scalia was quite controversial in his dissent in the Arizona immigration ruling just three days ago. He went after the president of the United States and rhetoric many people thought way outside the legal arguments of the court. They took it as a political argument. The liberal columnist this morning of "The Washington Post" this morning, E.J. Dionne, said Justice Scalia should resign.
Tell us about him personally and he views the politics of justice.
BASH: He doesn't view it as a political game and the idea to resign or outside the bounds of things that justices said is ludicrous. And, you know, if you go back and look at his record as a justice, I think people from the ACLU and liberal organizations would agree with this, he's one of the justices most likely to break from what you would think of as the political view of a conservative on issues like searches and seizure, the right to a jury trial, the First Amendment.
He's been a justice with in many ways very idiosyncratic views that, you know, unless precedent clearly forecloses something, you go with the original understanding of the Constitution and that oftentimes leads him down paths that in political discourse we might think are liberal but for him is the originalist view.
And on the immigration case, if you read his opinion, it was really sort of a masterful originalist analysis of the states' rights to exclude folks from their borders. I mean, he went all the way back to the Alien Sedition acts and said it's traditionally an issue of state sovereignty and the federal governments cannot without being explicit about preempt a state's rights to exclude people from their borders.
KING: John Bash is a former clerk for a justice we'll all be watching this morning just moments -- Antonin Scalia, one of the nine justices who will decide in moments, will tell us their opinion in just moments whether the health care law would stand constitutional muster. You just heard a clerk's perspective inside the secretive Supreme Court.
When our special coverage continues, a doctor's perspective of what's at stake as the health care law is decided on by the Supreme Court. Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're only 15 minutes away from the United States Supreme Court. The nine justices led by the Chief Justice deciding the fate of the health care reform law in the United States.
All the journalists who want to eyewitness this historic moment they are now inside the chamber. They are getting ready. There have been no leaks. We do not know -- we do not know the decision, the fate of the health care law in the United States. We do know that hospitals across the country are watching the Supreme Court's ruling very, very closely.
Lives, many of the doctors believe, will be at stake across the United States. It's a life and death issue for so many of these doctors and nurses. You ask them. They will tell you.
Fredricka Whitfield is joining us now from Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. She is live with the president and CEO of the Grady Health System.
Fred, tell us what the thinking is over there because I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is a life and death issue for a lot of folks.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is in a very big way, Wolf because you know publicly-funded hospitals like Grady here in Atlanta are considered safety net hospitals meaning a good number of the patients are uninsured or underinsured.
However, in the past year the Affordable Care Act really has meant that business here has been unchanged. It's the measures that would go in to place in 2014 that could have the biggest impact and to help explain that kind of scenario is CEO of Grady Hospital, John Hopper. Good to see you.
So while you say the costs are still high, medical costs are very high. That's what public hospitals have been experiencing. Affordable Care Act has not impacted that.
But best-case scenario of the ruling today, what are you and health care providers hoping for?
JOHN HOPPER, CEO, GRADY HOSPITAL: Well, for the safety net hospitals across this country the best thing is for the act to stand.
WHITFIELD: As is?
HOPPER: In its entirety -- as is in its entirety for safety net hospitals. As you know the majority of our patients are either currently on Medicaid or currently uninsured and those are the people that are going to benefit the most by the actions in the act.
WHITFIELD: All right John Hopper. Thanks so much, CEO of Grady, a hospital here in Atlanta. Back to you -- Wolf.
WOLF: We're getting more reaction from others at the hospital after we know what the Supreme Court decides. Fred, don't go too far away. Thanks very much.
Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us right now, he's our chief medical correspondent. Sanjay, you know it's hard to believe but in the United States of America 50 million Americans have no health insurance. If this law takes effect, 30 million of them will get health insurance.
But if the law is rejected by these nine justices of the Supreme Court, it's -- you know it's anyone's guess at what happens down the road. There are real practical implications of this decision we're about to hear.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: People seem to agree on this point, that the fact that so many people are uninsured is not acceptable. Just how exactly to get them there is the issue and even among the medical community Wolf there -- you know there's not always complete agreement on this. You know the differing viewpoints.
I want to bring in quickly Dr. Manisha Sharma, she's the New York State Director for Doctors for America. First of all just really quick. What do you think is going to happen in about 12 minutes from now?
DR. MANISHA SHARMA, N.Y. STATE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS FOR AMERICA: Sir, I'm hoping that the Supreme Court will actually do us good and be able to uphold the whole law. I'm afraid. I mean it's a little nerve wracking because my patients' health hangs in the balance.
GUPTA: One of the things that comes up is if the law is upheld completely, then you will have a lot more patients as Wolf just mentioned -- tens of millions more. Is the United States health care system in your opinion ready for that?
GUPTA: Are there enough doctors, enough resources?
SHARMA: So the ACA has a lot of provisions that actually will put in more primary care doctors in the system. It's going to take away the fear of being able to be a primary care physician and being able to take care of more and more people.
GUPTA: What about the quality of care overall? People worry about that, too. They want their health care and they want it to be good, as good if not better than it is now.
SHARMA: So yes. I think the quality of care will only improve. The way that the health care system has been has been with bad quality care, no one's being insured. No one is being able to get access. So this is just a step forward and a step up to being able to provide that for people in America.
GUPTA: And just quickly final question. Not all doctors are in favor of this.
GUPTA: What is the objection that the doctors have? SHARMA: I mean I can tell you personally I think that there's a lot of objections based on monetary gain. I think there is that element. I think there is also objection that people feel like this isn't covering everybody which I agree with. And I think that this is just a step forward.
GUPTA: Dr. Manisha Sharma.
Wolf again, 30 million as you mentioned is the number of people who might be covered if this is completely upheld but lots of different viewpoints even within the community of medicine -- Wolf.
WOLF: Yes and we'll see. We'll get a lot of that reaction after we know what the justices decide. Sanjay is going to be helping us every step of the way. Thank you very, very much.
We're only ten minutes away or so from the top of the hour. That's when these nine justices will decide two earlier relatively minor cases and then the big one, the historic decision on the fate on the Affordable Care Act as it's called, ACA. But a lot of the critics call it Obamacare.
Much more coming up in a moment.
KING: In about seven minutes, the Supreme Court will gavel into session its final day of this term. And on this final day, the most consequential decision of the Roberts court today.
Is the Barack Obama health care law constitutional? Again, that decision is expected within moment. You -- I'm standing just across from the Supreme Court, I can hear protest behind me.
Right in the thick of it, though, as we await this consequential decision, huge policy implications, enormous political implications. CNN's Brian Todd is right there in the middle of it. Brian, take us right there to the scene.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's a wild scene out here. We're kind of on the unofficial dividing line between the pro-health care protesters and the anti-health care plan protesters. We're going to pan over here. The Tea Party Patriots group is generally over in this area here.
But this group Protect Our Care is also mixing in here, the pro- health care protesters are over this way a little bit. They are trying to outdo each other with chants. A crowd of at least a couple of hundred has developed here over the last three hours when we've been here. It started out kind of sparse. The polemic that has exemplified the health care debate really on display here.
We'll try to make our way through the crowd but it is thick right now, John. And it's kind of hard to move around. Sorry, folks. You're just kind of seeing some of the chants and speeches. There are going to be a lot of speeches outside -- outside here on the platform after the health care ruling comes down in just a few minutes.
But a crazy scene out here, John. Everybody from belly dancers who are against the health care plan to a guy dressed as a national revolutionary -- revolutionary era patriot have been out here this morning. A very, very colorful and great scene out here.
KING: Brian Todd right there in the middle of it all. Free speech, the right to free speech -- one of the privileges we have in this great society protected by that court. Brian Todd right in the middle.
Wolf, this is perhaps the most polarizing political debate of recent years, the whole debate about the health care law, signed into law by the President back in March 2010. We are just moments away from the Supreme Court decision on whether or not it is constitutional.
WOLF: We will be watching every second of this unfold. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited just anticipating what potentially could happen. You are looking at some of the demonstrators out in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Candy Crowley is up on Capitol Hill. Candy, there will be a lot of reaction from members of the House and the Senate, statements galore to be sure. But then they're going to have to decide legislatively what do they do about all about this.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're going to do, and what we can expect between, say, now and December, and that is nothing major. We know that from other major pieces of legislation.
Right now what you're seeing is that the expectations of what the Supreme Court is going to do fall along party lines. The Democrats, you know, bullish that the Supreme Court is going to let this stand and things will continue. And the Republicans you're hearing saying we think they're going to throw out the individual mandate, the requirement that you must buy insurance, or face a penalty.
So their expectations are partisan. Their reaction will be partisan. And quite frankly, any attempt to kind of move it legislatively is not going to happen. Why? Because the Republicans are going to say, this was your health insurance bill. We voted against it. So you guys fix this.
You know, here's our plan. They're not going to put out a specific plan. It becomes a big old target. But they're going to say to Democrats, how are you going to fix this. The Democrats are going to say to the Republicans, you took this all the way to the Supreme Court, now what are you going to do.
So I think you will look for more sort of partisan bickering and nothing major between now and the next Congress -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy will stay on Capitol Hill. I think she's absolutely correct. If the Supreme Court rules against this law, I suspect nothing significant legislatively will happen before the election. Our coverage will continue in just a moment.
At the top of the hour, we will know, we will know whether the health care reform law in the United States is or is not constitutional.
BLITZER: We're getting ready for the top of the hour. That's when the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, will bring this session to order. There will be two relatively minor cases, minor decisions that he will read, and other justices will weigh in as well.
But then history will unfold. The fate of health care reform -- the health care reform law that the President of the United States signed in 2010, that will be determined. Is it, or is it not constitutional?
Protesters are outside the Supreme Court. We're standing by. Within a few moments the entire world will know what the Supreme Court has decided. Stand by, our live coverage continues.