Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
A Healthcare Ruling Shortcut
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 03:58 PM
As Dylan Byers noted on Politico earlier in the week, complex legal opinions about byzantine legislation aren't the ideal topic for instant TV news analysis. The pundits and legal analysts you hear later today will have to wing-it early on but if you feel like asserting your intellectual independence (and are able to take a longish lunch) there is a way you can reasonably do a little analysis of your own.
The Scotusblog helpfully points out that reading the 'syllabus' that accompanies the health care decision might cut through some of the clutter.
Obviously, then, this can be daunting, even for one who has experience in reading Supreme Court opinions, but especially for someone encountering an opinion for the first time. Fortunately for both regular and new readers, there is almost always a very helpful and much shorter discussion of what has been decided, and it comes out with the opinion itself — indeed, it makes up the opening pages of the document. It is sometimes called the “headnote,” but the Court calls it a “syllabus.” Whatever its name, its function is clear: to describe, in dependably accurate terms, what the Court has decided and how the Justices have voted.
There's a sea of possible outcomes for the ruling today. The syllabus won't give you mastery over all of the (possibly very important) nuances but it could help you become a more discerning pundit consumer for the rest of the week.
I'll post a copy of the headnote/syllabus here later today.
UPDATE: Here's the decision - the syllabus is the first six pages.