How We Found Out

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 28 2012 10:45 AM

How We Found Out

photo (48)

By the time I got to the court, 15 minutes before 10 a.m., stone-faced police officers were telling people to move it. The space in front of the building, which is smaller than you might think, was occupied at one end by TV stand-ups -- in pole position for aides to run the decisions over to them -- and occupied everywhere else by protesters. Pro-Obama forces took the north side, Tea Partiers took the south side.

I stayed across the street, and ran into Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who was kibbitzing with an aide about the tweet he'd send when the decision came down. He was just as focused on today's vote on contempt for Eric Holder. "I'm trying to time it so that the moment I vote, I swipe my credit card and send a donation to HonorBrianTerry.com," he said, referring to a fund aiding the family of a murdered border agent.

Schweikert walked away to take a call, just when people started sprinting outside of the courthouse. My fellow sidewalk denizens grabbed their phones and started trying to load SCOTUSblog.

"Obamacare upheld," said a conservative blogger with the handle Smitty, with a phone that could load the right site. "Mandate survives as a tax?"

Primly dressed people with intern badges turned around to see what his sources were.

"CNN's reporting it was struck down."

"The networks are disagreeing with each other."

"Well," said Smitty. "Here's what [RedState blogger] Moe Lane says. 'This is a disaster...'"

At that moment, the pro-Obama side of the protests started cheering and waving signs. The Republicans around me registered their disgust succinctly. "Are you kidding?" "It's a tax?" "FUCK!"

I heard a peal of delight and turned around -- that's the picture at the top of this post. Hilary Matfess, a young policy analyst, was jumping up and down, yelling out details.

"The mandate is constitutional! It was upheld! Roberts went for the swing vote! Yes! Oh my God! The individual mandate survives as a tax!"

Did you work on passing the bill? I asked.

"No!" said Matfess. "I just have lupus!"

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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