Thursday Morning Open Thread: Should’ve Locked the Doors

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)

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The estimable Dahlia Lithwick is not impressed by the SCOTUS spectacle:

It bears pointing out that for all of the six-plus hours of Supreme Court oral argument on the Affordable Care Act, the titans of the legal world—congressmen, appellate litigators, and heads of major national advocacy groups—were forced to surrender their cell phones, newspapers, and personal assistants in order to sit in perfect silence in the Supreme Court chambers. If you were to strip them of the sober gray suits and swap in a bowl of lentils, the last three days could well represent the legal world’s highest powered silent meditation retreat. Some of these folks haven’t been quiet for two consecutive waking hours since the 1960s.
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The justices are anything but quiet, and as the two arguments roll on—90 minutes this morning on whether the whole act must fall if the individual mandate falls and almost 90 minutes this afternoon on the constitutionality of the health care law’s Medicaid expansion—the justices start to become almost punchy with all the melodrama. At one point during the morning session, Justice Antonin Scalia, reading from an opinion in a different case, lapses into Latin. Later Justice Stephen Breyer attempts to order the parties into a settlement conference to determine which provisions of the health care law should be allowed to survive. Justices Scalia and Elena Kagan bicker quietly over how much work their respective clerks will need to do in order to sever the mandate; and super-lawyer Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of the 26 states that want the court to strike down the law in its entirety, suggests that the same U.S. Congress that can’t confirm a magistrate judge can vote to reauthorize the surviving bill and “in a couple of days, it won’t be a big deal.”
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In the afternoon session, Justice Scalia goes on a long, illuminating discursion about what he would do if forced to choose between his own life and that of his wife. Justice Breyer makes an impassioned plea for the infinite virtues of administrative law. And Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, offered 15 extra minutes by Chief Justice John Roberts to finish his argument defending the Medicaid expansion, snorts, “Lucky me.”

In closing the same argument, Verrilli offers what I can only describe as a final day’s prayer to the nine justices to preserve the health care bill because, as he puts it, with guaranteed health care, millions of Americans “will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.” Then, with a gentle imprecation that the court recognize that Congress did in fact pass a bill, he says, “Maybe they were right, maybe they weren’t, but this is something about which the people of the United States can deliberate and they can vote, and if they think it needs to be changed, they can change it.”…

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker approaches outrage:

Here’s where a person could lose just a little bit of patience with the Supreme Court: in the midst of an exchange with Deputy Solicitor Edwin Kneedler, Justice Antonin Scalia saw an obstacle he didn’t like:

JUSTICE SCALIA: You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?
(Laughter.)
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JUSTICE SCALIA: And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to give this function to our law clerks?(Laughter.)
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JUSTICE SCALIA: Is this not totally unrealistic? That we’re going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?


The twenty-seven hundred pages make up the text of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act. Put aside, for the moment, the matter of the mandate and “severability” and “community ratings” and all the rest. If the Justices—or their clerks—need to read through a law to figure out whether it’s constitutional, it shouldn’t matter whether the law is twenty-seven pages or twenty-seven thousand (those numbers are divisible by nine, so they can split them up). Perhaps that’s a civilian’s view, and that’s not how things work in the Court these days. (Scalia, in other comments, made it clear that he really didn’t know what was in the law.) But it’s a good bet that there are many, many Americans whose chronic illnesses or health crises have generated far more than twenty-seven hundred pieces of paper, from doctors and hospitals and labs and insurers and, in too many cases, ultimately from collection agencies. Even if you’re covered, the broken state of the health-care system has meant hard work, and hardship, for millions of people.

Mr. Charles Pierce, as always, gets it right:

… His “originalism” was always a shuck, even if it was consistent, which it rarely was, and even if it was principled, which it never was. Bush v. Gore was proof enough of that. More often, it was just an excuse for Scalia to be an arrogant bully to the people appearing before him, and to the clients out in the world that those people were representing, most of whom were unworthy of the time that Scalia and his mighty mind had to devote to their petty little grievances. But at least, for a while, he actually tried to act like a judge in a democratic republic, and not the lost Medici pope. Reports pop up periodically that he’s bored, that he’s unsatisfied, that he knows he’ll never be Chief, so he’d rather just chuck it all and go teach, and write, and flip off the occasional tabloid reporter. Now, though, it appears that the man has pretty much checked out without going through the formality of resigning from the bench.

And for those of us Americans fortunate enough to contemplate the possibility of escaping to a saner society in the Antipodes, the Moustache of Understanding has to go and spoil everything:

… Conservatives in Australia and New Zealand have also long accepted single-payer national health care systems. The Labor Party ruled New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, when it was replaced by the conservative National Party. During Labor’s tenure, it passed legislation legalizing civil unions, giving prostitutes the same health and safety protections as other workers, and extending income subsidies for families with children, noted Jon Johansson, a political scientist at Victoria University of Wellington. While these moves were resisted by conservatives when in opposition, he said, they have “not tried to repeal any of them” now that they are in power…
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“We also have compulsory voting,” said Turnbull. You get fined if you don’t vote. “In a voluntary voting system like yours, there is always the temptation to run hard on hot-button issues that will fire up the base and get them out to vote. In a compulsory voting system, your base has to vote — as does everyone else — and so the goal is to target the middle ground.”
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To be sure, conservatives out here have all the low-tax, free-market, free-trade, less-government instincts of their American colleagues, but it is tempered by the fact that campaign donations and lobbying are much more restricted.

Sorry about that, Aussies & New Zealanders. You should’ve locked the doors when you heard the MBA-babble drifting down the corridor at Customs like second-hand smoke from a particularly toxic cigar.

98 replies
  1. 1
    piratedan says:

    he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to read it, ummmm isn’t that like his fucking job? Jaysus, did they all arrive to the courthouse in palanquins?

  2. 2
    WereBear says:

    If only people paid attention. Because they don’t bother to hide it any more.

  3. 3
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    It’s also worth noting that the civil unions bit (and I think the prostitution decriminilisation) were conscience votes. The conservatives couldn’t later repeal them as a party because they were never a party political issue – members were free to vote.

  4. 4
    buckyblue says:

    As we say in education, Scalia, that’s why you get the big money.

  5. 5
    Ben Wolf says:

    Amy Davidson is a fool. The point is not that the justices need to read to determine contitutionality, the point is that by going through it to pick and choose what should and shouldn’t be saved the Supreme Court would be usurping the privileges of Congress to determine legislative content. In fact that’s exactly what the broader context of the statement was, Davidson just edited it to make it look like Scalia wanted to be lazy.

  6. 6
    c u n d gulag says:

    It’s too bad Scalia, a self-describe “Originalist,” and a member of “The Federalist Society,” doesn’t know that the Founding Father MANDATED insurance for all Seamen.

    Scalia – what a pompous ASS!

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    Oh, and how long after the SC decides against ACA, before Scalia tells Liberals and Democrats to “Get over it!”

    Over-under?
    I say April 2, so people don’t confuse the decision by the fools on the SC with “April Fools Day.”

    And what, if the decide against it, do they do about the millions already covered – the people with pre-existing conditions, and young adults, 26 and under.

    They’d better handle that carefully, or it may rebound against them and the R party.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    ChrisNYC says:

    “Almost punchy with the melodrama” is perfect. I am certain that at some point over the last three days Justice Scalia has bellowed at one of his clerks, “Where are my soundbites?!”

  10. 10
    JGabriel says:

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    CNN via DKos:

    Although Obama has been president for more than three years, 56% of Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush and the Republicans for the country’s current economic problems, with only 29% blaming Obama and the Democrats.

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    Within the margin of error for 27%. John Rogers & Tyrone continue to be fuckin’ geniuses.
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    .

  11. 11
    c u n d gulag says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):
    Oh, THIS year.

    He won’t be able to contain his glee, the rancid, fat, POS!

  12. 12
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    I should point out that one of the reasons that the far right finds less traction here in Oz is that if the conservatives do so, they are immediately attacked for Americanisation.

    While people here largely like Americans and even admire American ideals (if not actions), they are decidedly allergic to actually adopting American social and economic policies.

    From outside, the whole US health care debate looks like some bizarre form of national self flagelation. Maybe all that whipping actually achieves something, but it’s hard as hell to work out what.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    From outside, the whole US health care debate looks like some bizarre form of national self flagelation.

    Looks like?

  14. 14
    Miki says:

    Day 1 – It’s not a tax, although it could be a tax, but we’ll say it’s not a tax, even though none of you want to talk about whether it is or isn’t a tax, so we can come back tomorrow and talk about something else.

    Day 2 – It’s broccoli. No, it’s pregnant broccoli. No, it’s young, pregnant broccoli.

    Day 3 – It’s too difficult.

    JFC – if this is law at the highest level then what the fuck do people bother with law school for? It’s worse than motion practice in family court ….

  15. 15
    dr. bloor says:

    It’s not a tax, although it could be a tax, but we’ll say it’s not a tax, even though none of you want to talk about whether it is or isn’t a tax, so we can come back tomorrow and talk about something else.

    In retrospect, I’ll be the SG wishes he had spent a little time on that first day arguing that yes, it really is nothing more than a tax.

  16. 16
    60th Street says:

    Add this to the pile of what Scalia doesn’t know about the law he’s about to rule on. Christ!

    There is no ‘Cornhusker kickback’

  17. 17
    R Johnston says:

    @Miki:

    if this is law at the highest level then what the fuck do people bother with law school for? It’s worse than motion practice in family court

    This is the complete absence of law. The conservatives on the Court and arguing in the Court made not even a single legal argument. This is pants pooping and the end of the Court as a legitimate governmental body. This is the mark of the time for all sane politicians and citizens to abide by the apocryphal Andrew Jackson and to simply tell the Court to fuck off and ignore its rulings.

  18. 18
    JGabriel says:

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    Miki:

    JFC – if this is law at the highest level then what the fuck do people bother with law school for?

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    For Republicans? So they can some day qualify for the office that the GOP apparently considers the highest sinecure in the land: Supreme Court Justice.
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    .

  19. 19
    JPL says:

    This is Luckovich’s take on the court.
    http://blogs.ajc.com/mike-luck.....id=sldr_hm

    IMO..It should be on the front page.

  20. 20
    Miki says:

    @R Johnston: That’s my point – there’s no law here, no recognition of precedence or even reasoned jurisprudence. It feels like some version of Dred Scott is going to become the law of the land ….

  21. 21
    ppcli says:

    @Ben Wolf: Scalia twice made reference to the so-called “Nebraska kickback” in a way that made it clear he thought it was in the bill, when in fact it was not. This and many other of his remarks made it clear that his knowledge of what is actually in the bill comes not from actually learning what is in it but rather from absorbing Fox News talking points and forwarded emails from Federalist society buddies.

    So, yes, whether he realized it or not, Scalia was displaying shocking laziness and in fact defending it.

  22. 22
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I don’t think they’re even going to announce their decision until at least June.

  23. 23
    RSA says:

    2,700 pages?

    By some measures the ACA has already affected the lives of over 50 million people. 20,000 lives per page, on average, should be enough incentive to read the law.

  24. 24
    El Cid says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: National self-flagellation would be banned as sounding too much like profligate sexual behavior. In addition, it would sound too much like some coherent, consciously chosen system, rather than the beautiful chaos of cartwheeling, grabbing greed we endure.

  25. 25
    Egg Berry says:

    @El Cid: @Omnes Omnibus: It’s not national self-flagellation, more like intranational flogging where about 27 percent of the population wants to take the whip to the rest of the population.

  26. 26
    c u n d gulag says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    I think you’re right.

    But either Scalia, Alito, Thomas, or Mrs. Thomas, will leak something, because the won’t be able to contain their glee.

    So, I still say 4/2/2012.

    The only hold-up’s may be Kennedy, who’s thinking of his legacy – especially after Bush v. Gore, and CU; and Roberts, who’s never met a law he didn’t like that shoveled money to corporations – which ACA will, at least for a time. But he, too, may be concerned about his legacy after Citizens.

    The three I mentioned above will do anything to undermine Obama and the D’s. And so will Gi

  27. 27
    c u n d gulag says:

    Ginny.

    Ooops!

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    @ppcli: BUT, the elite media tells me he’s serious.

  29. 29
    the fugitive uterus says:

    Ok, this is so depressing, i had to stop after reading the part about whining about having law clerks read the damn thing.the highest court in the land and this is what we get? really?

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    @ppcli: I listened to a Scalia speech once, and he was a completely pompous douchebag, and his arguments had the “strength” of such courageous figures like Newt Gingrich who when alone and unchallenged onstage find their every eructation simply beyond challenge, because, hey, they’re saying them, so, they must be brilliant. It was a bunch of putz nonsense, and I felt pissed and betrayed given how ‘brilliant’ so many people had told me this fucking prick was.

  31. 31
    JPL says:

    I think the Supremes will announce a decision next week. Most court watchers think they will announce in June but their waiting could cause undue damage to those who are already benefiting from the bill. Might as well pull the plug now.

  32. 32
    danielx says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    What do they do about those folks? Nothing. Moreover, they will proclaim that they’re proud of doing nothing. As per Paul Ryan, those folk should just suck it up and acknowledge that sacrifices must be made – always provided that those sacrifices are made by particular groups (the wrong sort of people), none of which include Ryan’s true constituency.

  33. 33
    the fugitive uterus says:

    um, am i crazy or is too much to ask that every single justice to have read the law prior to proceedings? i mean, other than Thomas who has been asleep for years.

  34. 34
    debbie says:

    If someone as “learned” and “esteemed” as a Supreme Court justice is capable of trivializing this issue by whining about broccoli, then this country has already died.

    Plus, I just heard that the Republican budget will guarantee 3 more decades of deficits? Is this truth or hyperbole? Isn’t this specifically what the Tea Party is fighting against?

  35. 35
    presquevu says:

    Even contemplating not reading the bill, much less whingeing about it, fails to live up to the Constitutional requirement that the Justices serve “in good behavior”, which the framers would no doubt find appallingly construed as serving for life.

    Get ’em out.

  36. 36
    Face says:

    And to think John and I and others were pilloried for merely suggesting that the court would ignore the law and rule based on dumbfuckery.

  37. 37
    Some Loser says:

    @Face:
    Can you at least wait until they rule before doing your victory lap? It has already been stated numerous times on this blog that the questioning isn’t as straightforward as everyone thinks.

  38. 38
    Skepticat says:

    JUSTICE SCALIA: You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?

    Ummm, yes.
    I’m astounded–well, all right, given this court perhaps I’m only a bit surprised–that he wouldn’t even pretend to hide his ignorance and arrogance. Even most schoolchildren read the books for which they’re supposed to give book reports.
    And, as buckyblue says, this is why he gets the megabucks.

  39. 39
    ppcli says:

    @El Cid: I’ve had the same experience: if you actually listen to Scalia’s arguments, they are generally terrible. But because he’s disagreeable, a bully, and has the right to crap on people who appear before him, he’s managed to sustain a reputation as a sooper-genius.

    As for his intellectual laziness and talk-radio level hackery, I remember my first tipoff was some decision concerning gay rights about eight-ten or so years ago. Can’t remember the specific decision. Scalia either concurring or dissenting, says that gay couples are just fine, because of the immense economic power that comes from all of them allegedly having no kids. At the time I was staggered that a justice of the Supreme Court would appeal so rotely and mindlessly to such an obviously bullshit, borderline paranoid, paleo-conservative dittohead talking point, that at the time was being constantly recycled on talk radio.

    Since this tendency of Scalia’s became salient to me, I’ve noticed him doing it constantly. The guy’s a fraud.

  40. 40
    Brian says:

    @RSA: You have met a conservative right?

  41. 41
    brantl says:

    @Ben Wolf: Since it is law, they do have to read it all. Scalia is lazy.Was there ever any doubt about that?

  42. 42
    bob h says:

    Scalia is showing his open contempt for Congress, the Democrats, and the President. Presumably he is salivating at the prospect of once again being able to say to liberals “get over it!”.

  43. 43
    honus says:

    @Some Loser: I’m not saying they will strike the law, but their questions clearly show they are engaging more in dumbfuckery than legal analysis. The questions and comments by Scalia and Kennedy are astoundingly sophomoric for jurists at this level and as R Johnston says at #17 above, devoid of any legal analytical frame.

    Scalia is expressly decrying actually reading and analyzing the bill he is considering vivisecting. This is a clear echo of Eric Cantor and others using the 2700 page stack of the bill’s text as a visual during the hearings, which was stupid for legislators and unforgivable in a legal matter. It’s a rare case that doesn’t produce at least 2700 pages of relevant documents.

  44. 44
    JPL says:

    Justice Roberts comes across like a nicer Scalia to me. How can we forget when he administered the oath of office to the President and made a mistake. Of course, being the Supreme that he is, he let Fox News blame the President.

  45. 45
    Ben Cisco says:

    Elections matter – as should be obvious to anyone who has read through this thread.
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    If President Obama isn’t re-elected, we get justices even dumber than this lot. SHOULD be a simple decision.

  46. 46
    honus says:

    @ppcli: I read a lot of his decisions in law school 1992-1995, and concluded at the time that he wasn’t particularly brilliant. He’s gotten much lazier less intellectually rigorous since.

  47. 47
    Ben Wolf says:

    @ppcli: The Cornhusker Kickback was a part of the bill. We can quibble qbout whether or not it was “part” of the ACA, but it was a piece of the legislation Congress passed and in terms of law is a component.

  48. 48
    negative 1 says:

    @piratedan: That would be like me saying as an accountant “what, you expect me to reconcile the bank statements every month? Or maybe I should pass it on to my secretary? Har har har…” Please tell me again about the finest of all legal minds bullsh!t.

  49. 49
    4tehlulz says:

    You are now aware that ACA will be upheld because Roberts and Kennedy just don’t want to deal with the fallout from overturning it.

    Washington laziness works in our favor for once.

  50. 50
    handsmile says:

    Here’s Charles Pierce’s take on this week’s antics by Crazy Uncle Tony:

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/p.....es-7675276

    The comments bring up several other notable outbursts by this great legal mind.

  51. 51
    joeyess says:

    “We also have compulsory voting,” said Turnbull. You get fined if you don’t vote. “In a voluntary voting system like yours, there is always the temptation to run hard on hot-button issues that will fire up the base and get them out to vote. In a compulsory voting system, your base has to vote — as does everyone else — and so the goal is to target the middle ground.”

    It’s so cute that Friedman assumes that Turnbull is talking about Friedman when he refers to targeting the “center”.

  52. 52
    Chuck says:

    @ppcli: If it wasn’t Lawrence v. Texas, I can’t imagine what it would have been.

  53. 53
    Poopyman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @Viva BrisVegas:

    From outside, the whole US health care debate looks like some bizarre form of national self flagelation. Maybe all that whipping actually achieves something, but it’s hard as hell to work out what.

    __
    No, not self flagellation, exactly, because there’s no sense of unity. There’s definitely a sense that the other half of the country is full of righteous assholes.
    __
    Maybe a better analogy would be Siamese twins having a fist fight.

  54. 54
    Chyron HR says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    No, sorry, the Senate specifically voted to strip the evil “Cornhusker Kickback” from their final bill, which was the one the House subsequently passed and President Obama signed into law.

    P.S. Guess which party unanimously voted in favor of retaining the dreaded “Cornhusker Kickback” when given the option to get rid of it?

  55. 55
    Splitting Image says:

    I still say they uphold.
    Yesterday an Oklahoma court threw out that state’s mandatory ultrasound law. If the Supremes rule that a government can’t mandate a purchase from a private company, just about all of the laws the pro-life movement panty-sniffing contingent have passed over the years will be thrown out. And they will establish a legal precedent for arguing that the state can’t mandate that you purchase a delivery from a health care provider instead of an abortion.

    Can you picture the five guys the conservative movement put on the court to abolish Roe vs Wade risk voting to enshrine the right to an abortion in the constitution? I can’t.

    I can certainly picture them trying to come up with an argument that will kill the ACA mandate without leaving the panty-sniffers up the creek, and I think that’s part of what they are up to in the oral arguments, but I think in the end they will decide that it’s safer to rule the mandate constitutional and let congress deal with the fallout.

    Mind you, I suppose that’s simply what I would do if I were in their shoes. As many people have pointed out, expecting conservatives to behave rationally is often a fundamental mistake in logic. We shall see.

  56. 56
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    Fascinating. So in Australia, “you’re acting American” carries the same charge as “you’re acting French/acting European” carries here…

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @honus:

    This is a clear echo of Eric Cantor and others using the 2700 page stack of the bill’s text as a visual during the hearings, which was stupid for legislators and unforgivable in a legal matter.

    I’m a little surprised that you and I seem to be the only people to have caught that particular dogwhistle. This is Scalia echoing a right-wing talking point, not an actual complaint by him.

  58. 58
    Catsy says:

    @Mnemosyne: There is that, but I think it really does betray an appalling contempt for one of the most basic duties of his lifetime appointment. Even if you take the statement in the original context, which was discussing the prospect of having to wade through all of that in order to determine what can stand.
    __
    Are you fucking kidding me? That’s your job, asshole. If you don’t want to do it, step aside and we’ll appoint someone who will.
    __
    Except that he never will, because he would die sitting on the bench before he let a Democrat appoint his successor.

  59. 59
    vernon says:

    Gin & Tacos nails it:

    Of course the Court is going to strike it down. That much was painfully apparent the moment the White House and congressional Democrats decided that it was less important to reform a broken system than it is to keep the insurance companies happy and rolling in our money. The idea was ridiculous from the beginning, especially given that it would not only inevitably end up in the courts but would end up before a conservative Supreme Court. So as his signature (only?) legislative accomplishment is undone in the next few weeks, Obama has no one but himself to blame. When he decided that universal coverage could or would be achieved by contracting things out to a broken, profit-driven health insurance industry, he might as well have pulled the plug then and there. The law isn’t going to be killed – it was essentially stillborn.

  60. 60
    vernon says:

    Gin & Tacos nails it:

    Of course the Court is going to strike it down. That much was painfully apparent the moment the White House and congressional Democrats decided that it was less important to reform a broken system than it is to keep the insurance companies happy and rolling in our money. The idea was ridiculous from the beginning, especially given that it would not only inevitably end up in the courts but would end up before a conservative Supreme Court. So as his signature (only?) legislative accomplishment is undone in the next few weeks, Obama has no one but himself to blame. When he decided that universal coverage could or would be achieved by contracting things out to a broken, profit-driven health insurance industry, he might as well have pulled the plug then and there. The law isn’t going to be killed – it was essentially stillborn.

  61. 61
    Nutella says:

    Scalia’s comment reminds me of the old Doonesbury cartoon where the Congressman’s mistress is asked to justify her employment on the public payroll by demonstrating her literacy in court:

    “The alphabet? All of it?”

  62. 62
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Catsy:

    Are you fucking kidding me? That’s your job, asshole. If you don’t want to do it, step aside and we’ll appoint someone who will.

    I thought it was the job of the lawyers presenting the case against to pick out what they think is U.C. and prove it to the court. The court has no free standing ability to wade in to a law and rule willy-nilly.

  63. 63
    amcoco says:

    @MobiusKlein:

    The court has no free standing ability to wade in to a law and rule willy-nilly.

    Absolutely true. Tho it would certainly be nice if they were willing to acquire a full understanding of the legislation as a whole before ruling on those portions the parties have identified as potentially problematic. It is their job to make fully-informed decisions, not knee-jerk reactions.

  64. 64
    dollared says:

    What this whole thing proved is that the right wing bubble has enveloped the entire Supreme Court. The entire premise – that they should pronounce on this legislation rather than determine if the commerce clause authorizes, this as it clearly does – is just absurd. It only make sense at Federalist Society meetings.

    We have to call their bluff and simply pass single payer.

    Done and done.

  65. 65
    TooManyJens says:

    That much was painfully apparent the moment the White House and congressional Democrats decided that it was less important to reform a broken system than it is to keep the insurance companies happy and rolling in our money.

    Oh, grow up. I wish we lived in the happy-dappy world where a nation of 300 million people, in which right-wingers and corporations have had outsized influence for decades, could just snap its fingers and institute single-payer if only it weren’t for those fucking Democrats. Unfortunately, we live here, where sometimes you have to take baby steps and be grateful if you don’t fall on your ass and get to take more steps later.

    Anyone who thinks the White House and (most) congressional Democrats are the real obstacle to decent health care reform isn’t qualified to opine on the subject.

    I am SO DONE with firebagging, I can’t even tell you.

  66. 66
    Catsy says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Anyone who thinks the White House and (most) congressional Democrats are the real obstacle to decent health care reform isn’t qualified to opine on the subject.
    __
    I am SO DONE with firebagging, I can’t even tell you.

    QFMFT. To me this is willful ignorance of and contempt for facts nearly as egregious as what’s coming out of the GOP.

    I’m so done trying to debate with these clowns on equal ground as if they were simply advancing another legitimate opinion. At this point they’re either arguing in bad faith or too uninformed to engage with constructively, and either way it’s a waste of time.

  67. 67
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @TooManyJens:

    I am SO DONE with firebagging, I can’t even tell you.

     
    I don’t mind folks agitating for a more left-wing policy; we need that. FDR’s “now go make me” quote, etc. It is when they cross the line into openly rooting for Obama to fail, regardless of how much damage that would do to (A) actual human beings who are currently benefiting from the (admittedly somewhat centrist) law he signed, and (B) any hope that Congress will revist this issue again anytime soon only next time it will be MOAR BETTER, that is the part that raises my hackles.
     
    Jeesh people, get your priorities in order. Also, fer crying out loud, Nach Aetna uns is not a plan for reform, it is wallowing in an emotionally satisfying revenge fantasy.

  68. 68
    Delia says:

    Now we know why the Supremes are loath to allow teevee cameras into their august chambers.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TooManyJens:

    I also enjoy the total ignorance that firebaggers have of the amount of time and work it takes to change over to a single-payer system. Apparently they believe that the US should be able to do what no country on earth has ever been able to do and change our entire healthcare system with a single piece of legislation unlike, say, South Korea, which took 15 years to switch from a private insurance system to a single-payer system (and that was considered lightning fast in public policy terms — Canada’s system took something like 30 years to build).

    But apparently we’re the US and we’re better than everyone else, so we could totally do it in a single step if it weren’t for those goddamned Demon-rats. USA! USA! USA!

  70. 70
    TooManyJens says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I don’t mind folks agitating for a more left-wing policy; we need that.

    __
    Oh, I agree, but there are smart ways to do it, and then there are the ways people usually employ.
    __
    I don’t know, maybe not “usually”. I’m sure there are orgs I don’t know about doing smart work trying to pull the country to the left. I just get pissed at the firebagger types because a) they’re so destructive; and b) they’re so self-righteous about their destructiveness makes them better than the rest of us.
    __
    @Mnemosyne:

    I also enjoy the total ignorance that firebaggers have of the amount of time and work it takes to change over to a single-payer system. Apparently they believe that the US should be able to do what no country on earth has ever been able to do and change our entire healthcare system with a single piece of legislation

    EXACTLY.

  71. 71
    TenguPhule says:

    @Catsy:

    He needs some assistance with that. As do Thomas and Roberts.

  72. 72
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Apparently they believe that the US should be able to do what no country on earth has ever been able to do and change our entire healthcare system with a single piece of legislation

     
    What about Great Britain and the creation of the NHS? Admittedly that is a somewhat special case since they were coming out of a centrally planned wartime economy which was already quasi-soshulist.
     
    I do agree with your larger point when taken in a more specifically American context. Almost all of our social welfare reforms have been introduced and implemented piecemeal rather than all at once. It just doesn’t seem that way when you telescope all the details and for example give FDR all the credit for creating a complete system which was also the work of his successors from Truman thru LBJ. Heck, even Lincoln didn’t emancipate the slaves all in one go.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    What about Great Britain and the creation of the NHS?

    It took about five years to write the actual policy before it was voted on, and the system that is in place today is not the original system — it underwent major changes in 1974 and 1982. So to claim that it was put in place by “a single piece of legislation” is misleading at best and vastly underestimates the amount of time it actually took to make the changeover.

    ETA: The original 1946 act was completely repealed in 1977.

  74. 74
    Some Loser says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Don’t forget the whitewashing of FDR’s faults.

  75. 75
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So NHS = similar to the history of social security here in the US. That first increment which took 5 years, prior to the mods in 1974 and 1982 seems then to be the upper bound of how large a set of changes anybody has been able to make at one go.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Sorry, one more update — even the 1946 act was replacing the original insurance system set up in 1911. So it took Britain 35 years to get single-provider insurance, not a single piece of legislation.

    ETA: And the original 1911 system was more similar to a modern single-payer system, with the employee, the employer and the government all contributing towards it.

    ETA #2: In other words, by 1911 Britain had already established that the government should be involved in healthcare. We established that in 1965 with Medicare.

  77. 77

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  78. 78
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    In other words, by 1911 Britain had already established that the government should be involved in healthcare. We established that in 1965 with Medicare.

    IIRC, by that date they were playing a game called “keeping up with the Germans”. I sometimes wonder how much of the 20th Cen. social welfare state can be chalked up to being a byproduct of the era of mass infantry warfare. Unhealthy bodies make poor cannon fodder.

  79. 79
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @Poopyman:

    Maybe a better analogy would be Siamese twins having a fist fight.

    Only one of the Siamese twins isn’t aware that he’s joined to the other one.

  80. 80
    Delia says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Yeah, and illiterate and innumerate soldiers are too dumb to follow complex instructions. Or to work in the factories once they get home.

  81. 81
    Paula says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Well, that particular post is not really about the health care law as it was negotiated over months, with the undue influence of people like McConnell, Boehner, the Snowe, Nelson, etc. who wanted to put on a big show about standing up to creeping s.o.c.i.a.m.a.l.i.s.m. It also wasn’t about how teabaggers essentially took over public debate by making themselves the center of attention town halls.

    It also wasn’t about how the always-present threat that health insurance companies would go all-in with republican talking points and politicians unless they were given an outlet into the crafting of the bill.

    The ginntacos post was mostly taking place in a universe where Obama crafted the policy whole from his brain and just had everyone sign it because they agreed so much.

  82. 82
    eemom says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m a little surprised that you and I seem to be the only people to have caught that particular dogwhistle. This is Scalia echoing a right-wing talking point, not an actual complaint by him.

    Actually it’s not that either.

    Davidson’s “outrage,” AL’s signature copyright infringement thereof, and the swallowing it all up hook, line and sinker that occurred on this thread is a display of misplaced credulity that would put a Fox news audience to shame.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eemom:

    So when Scalia brought up the right-wing talking point about a “broccoli mandate” the other day, that was just sarcasm, too?

    Funny how he keeps spouting all of these right-wing talking points without really meaning them.

  84. 84
    eemom says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You miss the point entirely, which surprises me coming from you. Did you even read the link?

    He wasn’t referring to the right wing talking point AT ALL.

  85. 85
    TooManyJens says:

    @Paula: Well, I wish the people who live in that universe would quit swooping over to this one and flinging their feces at us. We have enough problems.

  86. 86
    eemom says:

    For fuck’s sake people, this man isn’t STUPID. Brutal, evil, arrogant, yes. Not as brilliant as he’s hyped up to be, maybe.

    But stupid enough to echo a moron like Eric Cantor from the bench?? Jesus effing Christ on a popsicle.

  87. 87
    Some Loser says:

    @eemom:

    While I personally agree with you, try to think of where people are coming from with their complaints. They fear the Supreme Court has been invaded by hyper partisan hacks who would twist the Constitution for political reasons. It is easy to see why people with limited interest and experience with the Supreme Court would hold that opinion. The Citizens United and Gore v. Bush are still in the mind of liberals.

  88. 88
    Ruckus says:

    @Some Loser:
    The Citizens United and Gore v. Bush are still in the mind of liberals.
    And he made these comments from the bench. Is he not allowed a bit of humor? Maybe but it sure missed the mark if it was intended to be humorous. I get that this is all kabuki and the decisions are made from briefs and cloakroom discussions, but in a hearing this important and watched, comments like this along with past decisions, really have no place. Or the whole thing really is a joke and we are all just along for the ride.
    __
    Another thing. What are all the lawyers defending the USSC here going to say if the decision is to hold the law unconstitutional? You all have been saying all along that precedence and constitutional law don’t allow this. What will that say about a supposed nation of laws? I’d bet that most of the non lawyers here don’t really have a lot of respect for the law anymore, as too many crappy laws get written and then hold up under scrutiny.

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:

    @eemom:
    Are you saying he’s not echoing right wing talking points? Are our ears deceiving us?

  90. 90
    Some Loser says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’m not a lawyer by the way. I’m just a 19 year old college student, so I probably know less than most people should.

    Anyway, if the mandates are overturned, then we should respect their decision and think about stuffing the Supreme Court with more left-leaning justices.

    It is okay to scrutinize their decision, but people have gone overboard and basically said the entire institution is corrupt/broken. Talk like that is bound to irritate people who are closer to the institution: Law is complex, and it requires a degree of knowledge most here do not possess. To have someone who is almost entirely ignorant of most of the system try to criticize is annoying as hell. (Though I get the feeling that burns and eemom are not the patient types, either).

  91. 91
    vernon says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Anyone who thinks the White House and (most) congressional Democrats are the real obstacle to decent health care reform isn’t qualified to opine on the subject.

    I doubt anyone thinks that. But far too many of you all think eating shit with a smile is going to get us a place at the table. How long before you’re “SO DONE with” eating shit with a smile? (My guess is 4.7 years.)

  92. 92
    Eolirin says:

    @vernon: Look, we’re at a really dangerous time for the country right now. The focus has to be on saving the country from the crazies; the discussion on just how progressive the Democrats should be can wait till that’s been done.

    And it’s not to say that you shouldn’t push for things to be more to the left – doing that is helpful, it shifts the Overton window – but being bitter and destructive toward allies that are desperately needed in order to prevent conservatives from unilaterally setting policy is dangerously counterproductive. If you let Crazy win, to spite the centrists, everyone loses.

    Crazy first, centrist second. One battle at a time.

  93. 93
    vernon says:

    @Eolirin:

    Right, because the thought of holding POTUS to his campaign promises is SOOOOOOOO CRAZY … Single payer? creating the bill in public view? wow, who let Abby Hoffman in here?!?

  94. 94
    Tom says:

    I don’t understand how the SCOTUS can make any kind of a decision without first reading what they must decide about. I don’t understand these people on The Hill. They’re presented a bill they must make a decision on but all they want to do is read the title of it.
    If, indeed, there are 2700 pages in this bill [I don’t think there are], so what? I am sure they have clerks that can read that entire document in less than 2/3 days and digest it for the poor judges that are just so busy it is a burden to do the job expected of them.

  95. 95
    someofparts says:

    “And for those of us Americans fortunate enough to contemplate the possibility of escaping to a saner society in the Antipodes, the Moustache of Understanding has to go and spoil everything:”

    which is followed by the news that-

    “Conservatives in Australia and New Zealand have also long accepted single-payer national health care systems.”

    followed by a longer list of good things the labor government has done in Australia that conservatives there have no intention of trying to overturn

    My question is about the “spoiling everything” part. What is spoiled, or unattractive, about a nation that has single payer? What am I not getting?

  96. 96
    Anne Laurie says:

    @someofparts:

    What is spoiled, or unattractive, about a nation that has single payer? What am I not getting?

    No, Australia sounds better than ever — I just figured that after the Moustache of Understanding)(Friedman) blathered his way across your fine nation, you’d never let another American ashore!

  97. 97
    Triassic Sands says:

    x

  98. 98
    Back to the Dark Ages says:

    The US has conservatives unlike those in the UK, Canada, etc.

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