Rich Galen

The long-awaited decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (which we here, in Your Nation's Capital, refer to as SCOTUS) on Obamacare is due to be handed down this week.

Some say Monday. Some say Thursday. Chief Justice, a couple of clerks and the guy who converts the decisions into PDF files probably know which day, but they're not talking.

Every organization in Washington - public, private, business association, union, Left Wing, Right Wing … you name the type of group, and I guarantee they spent last week and most of this weekend getting ready for the decision.

Problem is: You don't know how the Justices will have ruled on the total bill or portions of the bill, so you have to be ready for as many permutations and combinations as possible.

The basic unit of currency in these matters is The Statement - the official position of organization is publishing it.

Back in June, 2008 when I was working for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) we were faced with a similar problem in what was known as the "Heller Decision."

This was the case that the Supreme Court accepted to decide whether local jurisdictions - in this case the District of Columbia - could have gun control laws which essentially over ruled the 2nd Amendment:

"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Twenty-six words that have generated the creation of billions of words (and the expenditure of billions of dollars) in trying to clarify.

According to the Washington Post's reporting of the Heller Case, the Supreme Court:

"decided for the first time in the nation's history that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun for self-defense."

Senator Hutchison had become the lead Senator on the side of protecting 2nd Amendment rights but we didn't know how the Court was going to rule so we had to come up with a plan.

Hutchison's press secretary at the time, Matt Mackowiak managed the process which included writing and getting approved two statements - one if the Court ruled our way and one if it didn't.

What we didn't want to have happen was to have the decision released and then start trying to draft a statement.

We had the legal staff edit the statements to make certain they were on point, and they were also standby to race through the decision to make sure the statements made sense after the Court actually ruled.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.