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“The Moops”–journos upset at the Supreme Court Obamacare challenge ridicule the case

March 22, 2015

My latest for the Weekly Standard

Perhaps they’ll find “the Moops” a scream, too
And for that reason, King v. Burwell has generated a lobbying blitz in the liberal media of seemingly unprecedented proportions. It began even before the King petitioners asked the Supreme Court last July 31 to review a ruling against them by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is unlikely to stop until the justices issue their own decision, probably at the end of June. Some of the press output touches on the actual issues of statutory interpretation and federalism that the King case raises. But the bulk of the lobbying, in newspapers, magazine articles, websites, and blogs, has consisted of belittling the petitioners, ridiculing the legal theories that their lawyers have put forth, impugning the motives of conservative and libertarian activists involved in the litigation, engaging in argumenta ad misericordiam designed to make the High Court feel sorry for the 8 million people who might not be able to afford Obamacare-mandated health insurance should the King petitioners prevail, and appealing to the amour-propre of various of the nine Supreme Court justices.

As early as last July 30 Jonathan Chait of New York magazine derided the King challenge as a “desperation lawsuit .  .  . laughed out of court” and a “quixotic attempt by right-wing legal activists to capitalize on sloppy legislative language to carve a large chunk out of the Affordable Care Act.” The idea seemed to be that the Supreme Court justices would make fools of themselves if they read the words “established by the state” literally. Chait joked that the provision’s omission of a reference to federal exchanges was like the “Moops” episode on Seinfeld in which George Costanza insists that a typo for the word “Moors” on an answer card in a game of Trivial Pursuit renders the correct answer wrong. Other liberal journalists loved the “Moops” analogy, and it traveled around the media grapevine. A March 2 article by Robert Schlesinger in U.S. News retailed “Moops” one more time and also used the words “absurd,” “ridiculousness,” and “silliest” with respect to the King challenge.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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