For today's post, I thought I would mix it up a little. The word cloud below reflects the 150 most commonly used words during last month's oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Affordable Care Act Cases. To create this cloud, I combined the transcripts from all four days of argument and then let Wordle work its magic.
Initial observations: Given the fact that the words "Justice" and "Mr." appear in the transcript each time a party speaks, one might expect these honorifics to be repeated in the transcript more than any other word.
The substance of the monumental arguments, however, reveals itself once you look beyond these two words. For example, the words "Congress," "people," and "market" underscore some of the most difficult questions facing the Supreme Court; that is, questions concerning the separation of powers,* federalism, and the Commerce Clause.
Based on the amount of space occupied by Justice Sotomayor's name relative to those of her colleagues, it appears that the first of two justices appointed by President Obama was the most vocal justice on the bench. (And not surprisingly, Justice Thomas's name did not make it into the cloud.)
*In an interesting twist earlier this week, President Obama made several controversial remarks that provide an excellent illustration of the inherent tension between the separate branches of government. Here is a video of those remarks:
Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit (a Reagan appointee) responded in a separate case by ordering the federal prosecutor in that case to submit a paper, "three pages single spaced," detailing the DOJ and Attorney General Holder's position on the Judiciary's authority to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. (For a brief overview of the chain of events that led to Judge Smith's unusual order, check out The Wall Street Journal Law Blog's coverage of the issue here.)
The Blog of LegalTimes has posted a copy of Attorney General Holder's letter in response here: PDF. Did the DOJ meet its 3-page minimum requirement? Were the President's comments out of line? Please let me know what you think in the comments below!