Solicitor General Donald Verrilli basked in his recent historic victory before the Supreme Court, appearing this morning at the Heritage Foundation’s annual “Scholars and Scribes” forum.
The conservative-leaning organization routinely hosts the forum to review the year’s most significant Supreme Court decisions. And the court’s 5-4 decision last month upholding most of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act was, this year’s centerpiece. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who served under President Ronald Reagan, moderated the panel.
“The bottom line is that the court held in the main that the act is a legitimate exercise of the federal government’s constitutional authority,” said Verrilli, who as the Solicitor General argued the administration’s case.
Back in March, many court watchers called his performance as dismal. One of Verrilli’s critics – Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker — characterized it as a “train wreck.” Reports criticized Verrilli for nearly choking on a sip of water he took during the proceedings. But the Solicitor General was redeemed last month when the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the healthcare law.
“I’m just going to take a sip of water here,” Verilli said today, playfully invoking (and dismissing) the criticisms.
Verilli also noted the Arizona immigration ruling had a “a couple of days in the sun” but very quickly faded from the national consciousness because of the healthcare decision. He touted the ruling as “very significant.”
He concluded: “The essential point of the court’s decision I believe is that the constitution vests authority over immigration in the national government and that each state is not free to impose it’s own regime for deciding who may lawfully be in the state.”