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Disclaimer: My current understanding is that the mandate in the Affordable Care Act should pass constitutional muster based on what the court has been deciding since the Wickard v. Filburn case. But here’s yet another AP Story that will make you want to gouge your eyeballs out with piping hot meat thermometers …

The headline: “4 GOP Appointed Justices Control Health Law’s Fate.” Can anyone come up with a more ridiculous and misleading headline? Especially after you see what they write down below. So you mean to tell us that the other justices do not control the fate of the health law? And look at the language used and read the rest of the article – it’s written as if “fate” means a particular outcome – lamenting the possibility that 4 justices might rule in such a way as to strike down the mandate. Again, I think the mandate is among the small things to be worrying about. But this presentation is ridiculous.

Here’s the text, with some brief comments:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s a thought that can’t comfort President Barack Obama: The fate of his health care overhaul rests with four Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices.

His most sweeping domestic achievement could be struck down if they stand together with Justice Clarence Thomas, another GOP appointee who is the likeliest vote against.

But the good news for Obama is that he probably needs only one of the four to side with him to win approval of the law’s crucial centerpiece, the requirement that almost everyone in this country has insurance or pays a penalty.

So in other words, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Democratically selected justices will vote as a bloc to support the mandate. Fine. But then is there any real jurisprudence here? In fact, this point seems to undermine the point of the article. It seems to me rather impressive that the 4 GOP (absent Thomas I suppose) appointees are thinking about the case and the facts and precedent and have yet to make up their mind – in other words you cannot easily figure out how ALL of them are going to vote merely on the basis of who appointed them to the court. Isn’t this a good thing? And what does it say when an “news” reporter laments this fact? Here’s more:

Lawyers with opposing views of the issue uniformly agree that the four Democratic-appointed justices, including Obama’s two picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, will have no trouble concluding that Congress did not overstep its authority in adopting the insurance requirement that is aimed at sharply reducing the now 50 million people without insurance.

On the other side, Thomas has made clear in several cases that he does not take an expansive view of Congress’ powers.

Both the Obama administration and the health care law’s challengers believe they can attract the other four Republicans to their side. The group includes Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the two appointees of President George W. Bush who have swung the court to the right in a number of areas; conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia; and the less doctrinaire Anthony Kennedy.

This is tiring it really is.  Here’s the winning quote (from a law scholar):

Thus, the real issue is whether the Republican-appointed justices will overcome ideology and vote to uphold the law.

Well, Hayek would have at least rephrased it by changing the last word to “legislation.” We’ve long since left the world of law.

2 Responses to “More Quality Reporting from the AP”

  1. chuck martel says:

    We have to get over the feeling that newspapers can or do express some kind of neutral, accurate account of events. Such has never been the case. Historically, the “news media” have been extensions of political organizations. The record of this is more obvious in places like Germany, where one of Bismarck’s first objectives was the establishment of newspapers that advanced his ideas and the National Socialists made propaganda the focus of their activity. There are plenty of examples in the US as well, for instance Wilson’s appointment of sycophant publisher of the Raleigh News and Observer Josephus Daniels as Secretary of the Navy.

    A great commentary on this subject is made by Michael Crichton in this talk:

  2. Rod says:

    I miss Michael Crichton. He was great at picking a topic for a novel that would challenge conventional wisdom and the superficial thinking that goes with it.

    As for punditry, I tune in Larry Kudlow whenever I can because he used to be the best at forecasting the economy and in particular what might happen with inflation and interest rates. Currently he is a bull as far as the stock market goes (I think the stock market is one of those things that is so complex and inherently unknowable that nobody really knows whether it will go up or down). But Kudlow is a supply-sider, and one of his frequent panelists is Art Laffer, so I still want to know what he has to say.

    Other pundits, however, have only a superficial knowledge of a lot of different things — like lawyers but instead of their knowledge being an inch thick and a mile wide, it’s only a couple of millimeters thick and 9 by 12 at the widest. They know only Mitt Romney can beat Barack Obama.

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