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Obama agenda: SCOTUS holds initial vote today

USA Today raises the curtain behind how the voting will take place at the Supreme Court on the health law. And the first votes will be today. “The fate of President Obama's landmark health care law likely will be decided Friday in an oak-paneled conference room adjoining the chambers of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts,” USA Today writes. “There, the nine justices will meet alone to discuss the case that transfixed Americans for three days of oral arguments this week. When all have had their say, they will vote in order of seniority. That initial decision may be altered as drafts of majority and dissenting opinions are written, circulated and rewritten, often many times. It might even be reversed during the lengthy writing process if one or more justices switch sides.”

More: “For most of the next three months, only the justices and 39 law clerks — four per justice and one each for the three living retired justices — will be privy to the ruling. And even in an age of Twitter and YouTube, it won't leak.”

All the speculation is on Anthony Kennedy, per the New York Times. “Justice Kennedy’s understanding of liberty is idiosyncratic, and there is every reason to think that both lawyers’ arguments in the concluding minutes of the argument on Wednesday afternoon resonated with him, said Helen J. Knowles, the author of ‘The Tie Goes to Freedom: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Liberty.’ (The title is telling. Another book on the justice, by Frank J. Colucci, is called ‘Justice Kennedy’s Jurisprudence: The Full and Necessary Meaning of Liberty.’) ‘I really don’t think Justice Kennedy has any idea at the moment how he’s going to vote in these cases,’ Professor Knowles said.”

“Democrats are fuming over Justice Antonin Scalia’s conduct during this week’s Supreme Court deliberations on President Obama’s healthcare law,” The Hill notes. “Scalia appeared hostile to the law while several of the high court’s liberal justices seemed to cheerlead for its defense. But it was Scalia’s attitude that rubbed some Democrats the wrong way. Scalia mocked the so-called ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ without seeming to know that provision was stripped out of the law two years ago. Scalia also joked the task of having to review the complex bill violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

“Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, today foiled President Obama’s plan to strip $24 billion in tax subsidies from the country’s largest oil companies, potentially fueling an election-year issue among voters disgruntled by escalating gas prices,” The Boston Globe notes.

“President Obama will touch down in Vermont and Maine on Friday afternoon for a series of fund-raisers for his reelection campaign,” the Boston Globe writes. “His New England visits will begin with a private luncheon with approximately 100 supporters at the Sheraton Burlington in Burlington, Vt., where the president will give a speech. Ticket prices for the luncheon started at $7,500 per person.

After lunch, Obama will speak at the University of Vermont, also in Burlington, to approximately 4,500 people. The event will include a musical performance by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. General admission tickets started at $100 per person, with student tickets available for $44.”