I don't know Donald Verrilli, but my heart goes out to him.  A high-achiever and a brilliant lawyer, he had a rough go as the main government lawyer arguing in favor of the new health-care law. He even earned the ultimate badge of distinction in Washington: a tacky Republican Party attack ad.


Much too much was made of Mr. Verrilli’s initial hesitations and stumbles. Can't we forgive him if he was a bit nervous at the start? After all, he knew the hostility facing him with at least three of the justices. And he might have had a moment when he noted that his predecessor as solicitor general, Elena Kagan, was now staring down at him in the robe of a justice.

This is a really mean town. Fortunately, it sounds as if Mr. Verrilli is more than capable of handling it. He had a nice quip when told he had more time to finish an argument yesterday. He said, “Lucky me.” That's the spirit, don't let them get you down. And for those who are quick to pick on a weakness, find your better angel.