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Pity parties & plaintiff-mocking: the Obamacare-loving press’s Supreme Court lobbying blitz

March 3, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

It’s all about getting this man’s vote

This has the Obamacare-loving press in a quandary: how to persuade the Supreme Court–or actually how to persuade Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote to uphold the individual mandate in the National Federation case–to ignore the plain language of the text of a federal law passed by Congress, thus allowing the Obama administration essentially to write its own law. So there are a variety of journalistic strategies simultaneously at work.

One is the pity party: focus on the millions of people who wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance without the subsidies, as Mary Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, does in the webpages of the Huffington Post. Never mind that the reason these subsidies were necessary in the first place was Obamacare’s heinous premium increases.

Or you can belittle the entire court case as stupid, as USA Today‘s Robert Schlessinger does in an op-ed titled “The Silliest ObamaCare Challenge Yet.” There, Schlessinger tosses around words such as “absurd” and “ridiculous,” apparently hoping if he says them often enough, Chief Justice Roberts will get the idea that he’s supposed to sneer, too.

Or you can say that Congress just goofed in its rush to push the law through and avoid the filibuster-enabling monkey wrench that then-Massachusetts GOP Senator Scott Brown, a sworn Obamacare opponent, threw into the machine in his special election in 2009. That’s the approach of Vox’s Sarah Kliff. Kliff seems to think that it is the job of the Supreme Court to clean up after a sloppy Congress.

Or, finally, as the Washington Post‘s Robert Barnes does, you can warn Roberts that if he votes to interpret the law the way it’s written, he’ll be injecting “partisan” politics into Supreme Court rulings. Also, he’ll turn into a “conservative activist” like that mean old Justice Antonin Scalia.

Good luck with the lobbying, press. In Roberts’s majority opinion in that 2012 National Federation case, he wrote, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” I predict that  he is going to write something similar this time around.
Posted by Charlotte Allen

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