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No one will argue against the constitutionality of healthcare reform

There is a difference between a political stunt and a legitimate constitutional question. The media doesn’t seem to know the difference.

From Think Progress:

Yesterday, the University of Washington held a debate about the constitutionality of the recently passed health care reform bill. The Seattle Times reports that none of the panelists at the debate argued that the bill was unconstitutional because the organizers of the event couldn’t find any law professors who held that view:

The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional.

But while the four panelists at a packed event Tuesday may have differed on some of the finer points, they all agreed on the big question: They said the new law passes constitutional muster and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite — including the one joined last week by state Attorney General Rob McKenna — have little merit or chance of success.Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit. In fact, he questioned the timing and thrust of the cases: “One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise,” he said.

Moderator Hugh Spitzer noted the lack of a vigorous dissenting voice. “I will say that we tried very hard to get a professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional,” he said. “But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand.”

By |2010-03-31T11:38:19-04:00March 31st, 2010|Healthcare, Legal, Party Politics|Comments Off on No one will argue against the constitutionality of healthcare reform

Grab Bag Sunday

I hope you had a nice weekend. Mine was pretty fair.

  • I have been discussing the commerce clause with a friend of mine. He is a conservative and he doesn’t like health care reform. In spite of this, we’re trying to have a civil discussion over the constitutionality of healthcare reform, which I covered a couple weeks ago. One of the arguments for the constitutionality of health care reform is Congress’s authority under the commerce clause in the Constitution. The commerce clause can be found in article I, section 8. I found a nice explanation of the commerce clause here. I have also been reviewing Linda Monk’s book, The Words We Live By. It points to a couple of key cases that I’m going to be looking up in the next day or so (United States versus Darby Lumber Company, Heart of Atlanta Motel versus the United States).
  • I congratulate President Obama for going to Afghanistan. I think it is truly important that we get Afghanistan right. One of the key questions is — is it too late? Only time will tell. One thing is certain. We have to get the corruption under control.
  • Several days ago, I got my U.S. Census letter in the mail. As I was filling it out, I kept thinking to myself, what’s the big deal? Conservatives like Michele Bachmann have been railing against the census as if the questions were going to be the most invasive ever thought of (what is your bra size? How often do you watch pornography on the Internet?) She even went so far as to suggest that people should not fill out the census — violating US law. The questions were simple. The information is critically important to all of us.
  • Lost in the healthcare debate is the reform of student loans that was also in the legislation. Government loans used to go through different financial agencies so that they can extract management fees. Now the government will lend directly to students. This should significantly decrease interest rates and other fees. This is a good thing.
  • Sarah Palin has come up with a new attack line against President Barack Obama. I guess she thinks that this is a winner. She told a crowd at the “Conservative Woodstock” in Searchlight, Nevada that, “we need a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor lecturing us from a lectern.” Now that’s a comeback… not!! She spent a good deal of her time talking about how important the Constitution is and then turned around to claim that we don’t need a constitutional law professor. Does that make any sense? Does she make any sense?
  • Frank Rich from the New York Times had an absolutely fabulous column today. He put the over-the-top rhetoric and violence into perspective. We have to go back to the civil rights era and the ratification of the Civil Rights Act before we can say that we’ve seen anything like this in American politics. Here’s a small excerpt from his column. (Please read all the column. It is wonderful.):

But there was nothing like this. To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance.

The apocalyptic predictions then, like those about health care now, were all framed in constitutional pieties, of course. Barry Goldwater, running for president in ’64, drew on the counsel of two young legal allies, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, to characterize the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.” Richard Russell, the segregationist Democratic senator from Georgia, said the bill “would destroy the free enterprise system.” David Lawrence, a widely syndicated conservative columnist, bemoaned the establishment of “a federal dictatorship.” Meanwhile, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weaponsat Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

  • And then there was one… or four. Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke were all ranked the number one seeds in their sections. Only Duke has made it to the final four. The other three teams include Michigan State, West Virginia and possibly the greatest Cinderella story of them all, Butler. March madness brings some absolutely fabulous basketball and some of the most horrendous basketball faux pas. By the way, I picked Duke to win it all.

I’ll end with a little smooth jazz from Jeff Lorber, who has playing this type of music for over 25 years.

Artist: Jeff Lorber
Tune: Rain Song

By |2010-03-29T00:02:04-04:00March 29th, 2010|Afghanistan, Domestic Issues, Healthcare, Legal, Music|Comments Off on Grab Bag Sunday

Grab Bag – Late Thursday

  • I was on call Wednesday night and unfortunately had meetings and a dentist appointment most of Thursday. My friends will tell you that I will commonly say, “Sleep is for wimps.” Well, right now I’m feeling pretty wimpy.
  • Blogging stuff – I’m going to change my comment section. I have tried to work with the folks at Echo because I like the functionality of their product. Unfortunately, the product comes with no customer service. I have been unable to get my comments to synchronize for more than three weeks. Therefore, I will probably be dumping their product in the morning. There may be some transition but it shouldn’t take long. Thank you for your patience.
  • Every now and then, I find out things that I already knew, like snowboarding is dangerous. There are several people in the hospital right now suffering from multiple different ailments because of snowboarding. A slick board, snow and no breaks — bad combination.
  • One of my commenters was trying to point out the unconstitutionality of health care reform. There has been a move among conservative bloggers to point out that there is no healthcare provision in the Constitution (concrete thinkers). One of the leading conservative lawyers penned an op-ed in the Washington Post supporting this half-baked idea. Fortunately, healthcare reform is constitutional. The Senate passed a resolution supporting its constitutionality. Legal scholars have been focusing on the commerce clause in the Constitution as the basis for its legality. I’ll have a more thorough discussion on this tomorrow when my brain is working better.
  • NFL free agency becomes a free-for-all just after midnight. Who are the top free agents? Julius Peppers is #1 in my book. If a team can get Peppers to play for 16 games, wow!!
  • Many of the senators who voted against extending unemployment benefits come from states where unemployment is the worst.
  • There appears to be a lawless vigilante group in Texas which is targeting gays. It would be nice to see them stopped.

More from Political Animal:

  • Iraq: “Iraq opened its polls early on Thursday for hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police officers responsible for protecting the country’s electorate, and they came under assault themselves. In all, three attacks in Baghdad, two in Mosul and another in Diyala struck near polling stations where Iraqi forces mustered to vote, a potentially ominous foreshadowing of the violence extremists have vowed to carry out in an effort to mar Sunday’s pivotal election of a new parliament.”
  • Jobs bill: “Democrats’ jobs agenda is moving again after stalling briefly, as the House passed one measure designed to boost employment Thursday and the Senate pressed forward on another. The House voted Thursday afternoon, 217-201, to approve a $15 billion jobs measure whose centerpiece is a Social Security tax break for companies hiring new employees. Six Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats to approve the bill.”
  • Still not good, but slightly better: “Claims for U.S. jobless benefits dropped last week from a three-month high, pointing to an improvement in the labor market that is slow to develop.”
  • You know who’ll win if health care loses? Wellpoint.
  • Robocalls as part of the NRCC’s “code red” program: “National Republicans are planning to unleash a huge wave of robocalls tomorrow targeting dozens of House Dems and warning their constituents that Obama and Nancy Pelosi are plotting to ‘ram’ their ‘dangerous’ health reform plans through Congress.”
  • On a related note, the robocalls are filled with deceptive claims. Try to contain your surprise.

Rachel has more on the robocalls:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

  • New chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee: Rep. Sander Levin (D) of Michigan.
  • The House approved a resolution yesterday characterizing the Feb. 18 suicide plane attack in Austin as “terrorism.” The final vote was 408-2. Both opponents were Republicans.
  • Get well soon, Michael Froomkin.
  • I have to admit, I enjoy these stories immensely: “It’s no good for a family values Republican to get picked up on a DWI. But substantially worse to get picked up for a DWI after leaving a gay nightclub with an unidentified man in a state vehicle.”
By |2010-03-04T23:52:46-04:00March 4th, 2010|Healthcare, Party Politics, Sports|Comments Off on Grab Bag – Late Thursday
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