** Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General under President Obama, in a New York Times op-ed: "Time will tell whether today’s decision foreshadows things to come.... Americans are growing increasingly comfortable, if not always happy, with the idea of nine men and women in Washington handing down rulings that remove decisions from the legislative process or even rewrite legislation altogether. While Chief Justice Roberts wrote an opinion that was apolitical and deserves much praise for its statesmanship, he did so within a legal context that is becoming less and less democratic.... It makes imperative a serious conversation about judicial restraint." CW: Katyal goes into detail -- but clearly explained -- about the implications of the ruling on future legislation. Read the whole piece.
Prof. Laurence Tribe gets into the weeds -- a bit more difficult to comprehend than Katyal, but worth it.
Tom Scocca of Slate: "By ruling that the individual mandate was permissible as a tax, [Chief Justice Roberts] joined the Democratic appointees to uphold the law -- while joining the Republican wing to gut the Commerce Clause (and push back against the necessary-and-proper clause as well).... This is a substantial rollback of Congress' regulatory powers, and the chief justice knows it. It is what Roberts has been pursuing ever since he signed up with the Federalist Society. In 2005, Sen. Barack Obama spoke in opposition to Roberts' nomination, saying he did not trust his political philosophy on tough questions such as "whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce." Today, Roberts did what Obama predicted he would do." Thanks to Haley S. for the link. ...
Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee to the Appellate Court, on why the Commerce Clause was sufficient grounds to uphold the ACA. Posner ends, "I am surprised, finally, by the lifelessness of the joint dissenting opinion."
Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "I think Chief Justice Roberts ... threw himself on his sword for the court in a way that would have made William Rehnquist proud." ...
... Lithwick reminds us of this prescient April 4, 2012, post by Linda Greenhouse. ...
... In her post today, Greenhouse speculates that Roberts had a late-breaking change of heart & switched his decision from nay to yea. But she also notes that, however & whenever he came to his decision, he is playing a long game.
E. J. Dionne: "The court's mixed verdict could create problems, notably in its weakening of the law&'s Medicaid provisions in the name of states' rights. While the impact of this part of the ruling is not fully clear yet, the court may have effectively denied health-care coverage to a large number of poorer Americans." ...
... Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "That ruling, experts say, could leave some of the poorest Americans in a 'no-man's land:' Not covered by the federal entitlement program but not eligible for the subsidized health insurance."
Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild Season, thro' a pleasant Country, in easy stages. -- James Madison, 1794
Health insurance itself is unconstitutional. James Madison, who wrote the damned Constitution, opposed doctoring altogether. But Congress could pass a mandate requiring leisurely sojourns in the Dordogne. -- Constant Weader Originalist
Smashing Broccoli. Charles Pierce: ... and why Sen. Jim DeMint (RTP-S.C.) is "the greatest walking argument there is that the Civil War was a complete waste of blood and treasure."
Paul Krugman: "... the winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with -- and, very likely, you.... The law that the Supreme Court upheld is an act of human decency that is also fiscally responsible.... At one level, the most striking thing about the campaign against reform was its dishonesty.... But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty.... The cruelty and ruthlessness that made this court decision such a nail-biter aren't going away."
CW: my favorite videographer Jed Lewison of Daily Kos compares & contrasts Obama's & Romney's statements to the press. As Lewison writes, "Once again, it turns out that President Obama's best surrogate in making the case against Mitt Romney ... is Mitt Romney. Obama's campaign team couldn't in a million years have done a better job of making Mitt look small":
Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: "The fight over the Affordable Care Act now shifts fully into the political realm, with Mitt Romney (the law's pioneer!) as its last line of attack. Which means that it will be up to Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates to finally be making the forthright, full-throated defense they have until now shied from."
Steve Benen: "... it's worth singling out Nancy Pelosi, who fought harder and worked longer to get the nation to this point."
Helen Philpot comments on the ruling, which naturally leads her to remarks like this: "The only interest the Tea Party has in making government smaller is that a smaller government will more easily fit in a woman's vagina." Thanks to reader Bonnie for the link.
AND the Award for the Best Headline of the Day Goes to -- Dana Milbank: "The Umpire Strikes Back."
Right Wing World --
Taxes, Treason & Terrorism
Taxes! General Rushbo Gives the Foot Soldiers Their Marching Orders. Brett LoGiurato of Business Insider: Rush Limbaugh "railed against the Supreme Court on his radio show Thursday, blasting John Roberts and saying that America had 'been betrayed and deceived by the Supreme Court.' He said it was the 'largest tax increase in the history of the world. What has been upheld here is fraud, and the Internal Revenue Service has just become Barack Obama's domestic army.... That is what we face now. We were deceived. Obamacare was a lie. It was a stealth tax on all Americans, and nobody knew it until today. Not officially. Obama told George Stephanopoulos it wasn't a tax.'" With audio. CW: this is the same language I heard coming from all over Right Wing World yesterday, including from Members of Congress. The militaristic language is as absurd as it is scary. What is entirely deceptive about the claim of course is that for ordinary citizens it makes absolutely no difference what you call the penalty for not carrying health insurance. This is not, as Rushbo & the troops are pretending, a "new tax"; rather, it's a different name for a fine that was already in place. It is true that -- as Tom Scocca outlines above -- Roberts' ruling makes a huge difference because the effect is to limit Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce. But in the instant law, that makes no difference to Joe Schmo. If he can afford to buy health insurance & doesn't, he's going to pay a fine/tax/penalty/premium/offset/whatchamacallit.
Treason! Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller: "Conservative leader and chairman of ForAmerica, Brent Bozell had harsh words for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. 'His reputation is forever stained in the eyes of conservatives, and there will be no rehabilitating of it,' Bozell said. 'He will be seen as a traitor to his philosophy. If the swing vote had been Kennedy, conservatives would have been disappointed, but not surprised.... But the fact that it was Roberts, I think, was shocking.... People are already talking about the idea that he could be replaced as Chief Justice.'"
Terrorism! Jake Sherman of Politico: "In a closed door House GOP meeting Thursday, Indiana congressman and gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence likened the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.... He immediately apologized."
Tim Egan: Mitt Romney is still a weasel. CW: I think Egan is wrong when he writes that Romney would not "deny care to those with pre-existing conditions"; Romney has said more than once that people who don't have health insurance & can't get it are out of luck. But I might be wrong: maybe Romney has changed his position; it's been known to happen occasionally.
New York Times Editors: "Because the Supreme Court did not repeal the law, Mr. Romney vowed to do so himself on his first day as president, a vow that will be impossible to fulfill, not just on his first day, but ever if he cannot round up 60 votes in the Senate. Otherwise the heath care law will stay on the books, and ... he will have taken an oath to uphold it.... Much of what he said was flatly wrong. The law does not add 'trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.' It lowers the deficit...." ...
... David Firestone of the New York Times lays into a few more Romney lies. ...
... Jamelle Bouie in the Washington Post: "The fact that Romney has decided to fabricate knocks against the Affordable Care Act is a sure sign that this ruling was bad for his campaign."
Other Stuff That Matters ...
Eric Holder Is Black. Charles Pierce: "Out in front of the capitol, assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn had just finished saying, "This is not about oversight. This is about overkill.... This is Dan Burton, who was going after Ron Brown because of stuff he made up. Now it's Chairman Issa, going after Attorney General Holder over stuff he made up.' You will note that Clyburn didn't cite Bill Clinton, Burton's major target back in the day, but the late Ron Brown, another African-American cabinet member. Clyburn's meaning could not have been clearer. Then, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who is so good with the whip that 17 members spit in the administration's eye..., took the microphone, and the first thing he said was, 'This is not about race.'" CW: And the guy Eric Holder works for is black. And Eric Holder is fighting GOP efforts to disenfranchise black voters. No, this just could not be about race, could it, Steny? ...
... Dave Weigel of Slate on why Republicans can't celebrate their contempt citation of AG Eric Holder -- because, the citation wasn't about politics, see; it was about getting to the truth for the Terry family -- relatives of Brian Terry, the border patrol agent killed with a U.S.-purchased gun by members of a Mexican drug cartel. CW: I don't know why nobody says this: Terry was killed with an American gun because Republicans have made gun laws -- especially in Texas -- so lax that U.S. law enforcement could not prosecute the purchasers even though they knew what the gunrunners were up to. The GOP is blaming Eric Holder for laws they & their colleagues in state legislatures put in place. This is a classic case of passing the buck.
... And Stuff That Doesn't
Every day that I've been a United States Senator, I've been either discussing issues [or] ... in Secret Meetings with Kings and Queens and Prime Ministers.-- Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)
CW: I keep forgetting to run this. M. J. Lee of Politico, June 21: "Sen. Scott Brown raised eyebrows by saying in a radio interview Thursday that he has 'secret meetings with kings and queens' and other leaders every day." ...
... Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: "Remember Scott Brown’s gaffe ... about meeting with kings and queens? His staff was quick to say the comment was a flub, acknowledging that the senator has not actually met with royalty. But the Massachusetts Democratic Party today released a video showing four prior examples when Brown used the same phrasing about meeting with 'kings and queens' while speaking to audiences as part of his reelection bid." CW: the video is truly hilarious:
The Hill: "Congress on Friday approved legislation that will extend federal highway programs through 2014, a low interest rate on student loans for one year, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years. Leaders in the House and Senate negotiated the giant package, leaving no doubt that it would have enough support to pass. The bill will likely be the last major piece of legislation approved by Congress until after the November elections."
Swift Justice. Washington Post: "The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to withhold information about a bungled gun-tracking operation from Congress does not constitute a crime and he won't be prosecuted for contempt of Congress." The House voted Thursday afternoon to hold Holder in contempt. The DOJ wrote to Speaker Boehner announcing its decision in a letter dated Thursday but not released till today.
AP: "U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts joked that he'll spend some time on an 'impregnable island fortress' now that the court has ended a session that featured him casting the decisive vote to uphold President Barack Obama's health care law."
Denver Post: "The roaring Waldo Canyon fire that exploded into west-side neighborhoods of Colorado Springs destroyed 346 homes -- making it the most destructive wildfire in state history. It also has claimed at least one life. Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey announced late Thursday that human remains had been found in a burned home in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood." Includes map, links to related stories.
Guardian: "European leaders have pulled back from the brink of disastrous failure in their attempts to rescue the euro, throwing a lifeline to the weakest links in the eurozone by agreeing to shore up struggling banks directly, remove disadvantages for private creditors and move quickly towards a new supervisory regime for banks.... Italy and Spain stunned Germany by blocking progress until they obtained softer bailout rules in 14 hours of bad-tempered talks." New York Times story here.
New York Times: "As global powers prepared for an 11th hour effort to revive the stalled peace effort in Syria, Kofi Annan, the special envoy and mediator who called the meeting, said on Friday he was optimistic that that talks in Geneva would yield an acceptable result despite Russian calls for changes in his settlement ideas." ...
... BUT. AP: "Government troops rained tank and artillery shells down on a rebellious suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus Friday, killing at least 43 people over two days, opposition groups and activists said."
Washington Post: "The Air Force is investigating a growing sexual-misconduct scandal in its basic-training operations, with a dozen male boot-camp instructors under suspicion of assaulting, harassing or having sex with female recruits. The case originated with a single complaint filed a year ago by a woman at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It has snowballed into potentially the worst sex scandal in the U.S. military since 1996."
Washington Post: "United Technologies, a major defense contractor, and two of its subsidiaries on Thursday acknowledged covering up the illicit sale of sensitive military software to China -- technology that the country later used to develop its first attack helicopter. Federal prosecutors announced criminal charges against the firms and a fine of more than $75 million for what they called a violation of U.S. export laws. Justice officials said the software sold to China posed a risk to American troops overseas and U.S. allies." CW: and you know the Pentagon will keep letting contracts to UT. So, big punishment.
New York Times: "Rupert Murdoch played offense on Thursday, embarking on a rare publicity campaign to extol the economic prospects of News Corporation's newspapers after announcing earlier that they would be spun off into a separate company." Guardian story here.
New York Times: "An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports -- downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better -- has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department."
AP: "Japan and South Korea put on hold an intelligence sharing pact less than an hour before it was to be formally signed Friday, in a major embarrassment for both countries forced by a political outcry in Seoul."
AP: "China's first female astronaut and two other crew members emerged smiling from a capsule that returned safely to Earth on Friday from a 13-day mission to an orbiting module that is a prototype for a future space station."
ABC News: "A U.S. Army battalion commander was killed by a fellow soldier on Thursday in a shooting incident at Fort Bragg, N.C. The alleged gunman then shot himself and is in custody; a third soldier was slightly injured in the shooting."
AP: "Struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. said Thursday it will delay the launch of new phones deemed critical to the company's survival and revealed its business is crumbling faster than thought. The Canadian company posted results for its latest quarter that were worse than analysts had expected. It's cutting 5,000 jobs and unexpectedly delaying the launch of its new phone operating system, BlackBerry 10, until after the holiday shopping season."