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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Why are the anti-ACA rulings getting so much coverage?

By Ezra Klein

Steve Benen runs the numbers and shows that the judges who have ruled against the Affordable Care Act (two of them) have gotten a lot more coverage than the judges who've ruled for the bill (also two of them). "In literally every instance, the Republican-friendly rulings generated more coverage, with better placement, and longer stories than the rulings preferred by Democrats," writes Benen. "If there's a sensible explanation for this, I'd love to hear it."

I actually think there is a sensible explanation for this: The two judges who ruled for the bill upheld the status quo. And they went first. So their rulings changed nothing. No one could accuse me of harboring an anti-ACA agenda, but I didn't give those rulings much coverage.

The two judges who ruled against the bill called for enormous changes to the status quo, and enormous changes to the status quo are almost the definition of what "news" is. These two rulings have genuinely called the bill's future into question, and that's a big story.

The test will come at the next level, when an appellate court rules on the legislation. Whether that goes for or against the administration, it should get a significant amount of coverage. Though, at this point, you could make a good argument that the law is so clearly going to end up before the Supreme Court that nothing between here and there really matters.

By Ezra Klein  | February 1, 2011; 11:57 AM ET
 
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Comments

I must admit, I was disappointed when this bill passed. I would have been happy if it had been stopped.

But I think I will actually be happier if it gets thrown out on constitutional grounds, knowing that Democrats squandered all their political capital passing it, securing their position in everyone's minds, for at least the next 15 or 20 years, as the party that will enslave you if you give them majority status.

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | February 1, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Though, at this point, you could make a good argument that the law is so clearly going to end up before the Supreme Court that nothing between here and there really matters."

I said something akin to this watching the Celtics play the Lakers sunday....

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 1, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"But I think I will actually be happier if it gets thrown out on constitutional grounds, knowing that Democrats squandered all their political capital passing it, securing their position in everyone's minds, for at least the next 15 or 20 years, as the party that will enslave you if you give them majority status."

So politics matter more to you than more coverage for more Americans? Than banning the practice of Insurance companies dropping people, including children, because of pre-existing conditions? Than paying down the deficit? Than allowing kids to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26? Democrats failing is more important for you than 30 - 40 million more people having access to health care?

Why am I not surprised.

Posted by: kmgunder | February 1, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"But I think I will actually be happier if it gets thrown out on constitutional grounds, knowing that Democrats squandered all their political capital passing it, securing their position in everyone's minds, for at least the next 15 or 20 years, as the party that will enslave you if you give them majority status."

So politics matter more to you than more coverage for more Americans? Than banning the practice of Insurance companies dropping people, including children, because of pre-existing conditions? Than paying down the deficit? Than allowing kids to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26? Democrats failing is more important for you than 30 - 40 million more people having access to health care?

Why am I not surprised.

Posted by: kmgunder | February 1, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"So politics matter more to you than more coverage for more Americans?"

No, but liberty matters more to me than political correctness.

And I don't care whether Democrats fail. What I want is to live in a free country; not in some kind of socialist "People's Republic." If that means liberals must fail, then that's just a perk.

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | February 1, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

When you wrote
"Though, at this point, you could make a good argument that the law is so clearly going to end up before the Supreme Court that nothing between here and there really matters."

Did you take into account how the lower courts rulings can and will shape not just the general public consensus (if such a thing can truly exist anymore) BUT moreover the specific legal framework by which the SCOTUS will review the ACA? Specifically that Judge Scalia could potentially rule against his previous opinion regarding the commerce clause (Gonzalez vs. Raich)

It would seem that if and when the ACA goes before the court that we are going to see a truly gymnastic jurisprudence fap-off. I can only hope the satire center of my brain doesn't explode.

Posted by: MichaelTheG | February 1, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

yesterdays ruling got more ink because 26 states are sueing the feds.

Posted by: obrier2 | February 1, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

yesterdays ruling got more ink because 26 states are sueing the feds.

Posted by: obrier2 | February 1, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"The two judges who ruled against the bill called for enormous changes to the status quo, and enormous changes to the status quo are almost the definition of what "news" is."

Exactly. If two school buses cross the train tracks on the way to school, and one of them gets hit by a train, guess which one we read about in the paper the next day. [Hint: not the one that arrived without incident.]

Posted by: Fishpeddler | February 1, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, if we were investment firm partners, I would take you aside and ask you the following question:

"Have you fallen in love with a stock?"

Nothing kills a portfolio quicker than the refusal to admit you're in a money losing investment.

What I wrote earlier is the best way to look at this.

If Obama is a politically savvy leader, more than he has shown so far, he needs to hold a "come to Jesus" meeting with Reid and Pelosi.

They need to sit down and dispassionately calculate the odds with SCOTUS. If a bad ruling is likely, then they need to do a direct total repeal now in the next few months. Repeal in spring 2011 would be bad politically, but a SCOTUS ruling aginst the president in 2012 would simply end his chance of re-election completely.

Perhaps there could even be a pre-arranged deal where the parts that are popular are put into a new smaller limited package and done at the same time.

You can't run with your heart but with your head. Obama would have time to recover if everything is junked now and something samll is put in it's place.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

johnmarshall5446 wrote: "Ezra, if we were investment firm partners, I would take you aside and ask you the following question:

"Have you fallen in love with a stock?"

Nothing kills a portfolio quicker than the refusal to admit you're in a money losing investment."

On the other hand, if you are, say, running a company called Socially Responsible Investments, Inc. and someone takes you aside and says, "We should stop wasting our efforts on these socially responsible investments. They aren't making us much money", the obvious response is, "I think you've lost sight of our mission."

If a progressive is unwilling to defend one of the great progressive legislative accomplishments of the past 40 years, what's the point of their holding public office? Being there just to influence the little decisions, while conceding all the big ones, is not substantively different from outright electoral defeat.

Posted by: Fishpeddler | February 1, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Everyone seems to think the Justice Kennedy is the swing vote. And he likely is. But if we are considering a politicized court, I don't think it is out of the question that Alito or Roberts vote to uphold the law. Both are well recognized supporters of big business and this bill is the best big business is ever going to do. Forcing millions of people to buy your product is exactly what these companies want.

Posted by: gpw123 | February 1, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

One might also ask, "when the bill was first passed, why was so little coverage given to the people who doubted its constitutionality?" The legal challenges were covered as sure losers up until very recently. That's partly why the rulings upholding the law got so little coverage; no one in the media was taking the arguments against it seriously at that point.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 1, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

fishpeddler:

I would counter with the Pyrrhic victory analogy?

"The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war. – Plutarch"

Are you there just to win the battle, or the war?

Would you be satisfied with a moral victory if the SCOTUS decides in 2012 that the legislation is unconstitutional and both the reform and Obama go down the tubes together?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

fishpeddler:

If you don't like that one, how about Obama as Henry IV the first Bourbon monarch of France.

"On 25 July 1593, with the encouragement of the great love of his life, Gabrielle d'Estrées, Henry permanently renounced Protestantism, thus earning the resentment of the Huguenots and of his former ally, Queen Elizabeth I of England. He was said to have declared that Paris vaut bien une messe ("Paris is well worth a Mass"),[13][14][15] but there is much doubt whether he actually said this himself.[16][17] His entrance into the Roman Catholic Church secured for him the allegiance of the vast majority of his subjects and he was crowned King of France at the Cathedral of Chartres on 27 February 1594. In 1598, however, he declared the Edict of Nantes, which gave circumscribed toleration to the Huguenots.[18]"

So in giving up Protestantism, he not only secured the throne of France for the next 200 year to his successors, but was also able to relieve the oppression of the Protestant minority too.

To paraphrase, "the Presidency is well worth a repeal".

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 1, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

*No, but liberty matters more to me than political correctness*

The health care bill ensures liberty. You want people to be slaves.

Posted by: constans | February 1, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

The bill is absolutely not the status quo, because it has not been implemented. Its implementation must bring new lawsuits. With the revelation of the 700 plus exemptions of businesses and other entities from its demands, it has to be asked, what was given or promised to the administration in return for release from the chains of Obamacare? If anything at all was given in exchange for release, the implementation could be seen as a form of shakedown and be challenged under the RICO act.

Posted by: truck1 | February 1, 2011 9:07 PM | Report abuse

johnmarshall:
It's interesting that you brought up 'pyrrhic victory', because that is exactly the term that came to mind as I read your post arguing for the abandonment of tangible progress for the sake of preserving power that one refuses to exercise.

Posted by: Fishpeddler | February 2, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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