Quote of the day, part deux


Roberts peered into the abyss of a world in which he and his colleagues are little more than Senators with lifetime appointments, and he recoiled. The long-term war over the shape of the state goes on, but the crisis of legitimacy has been averted

Now, I was clearly wrong on Kennedy (to his shame and Roberts’ credit), but this morning I did say:

I honestly don’t think either Kennedy or Roberts wants to go that far in either A) politicizing the Supreme Court; or B) blatantly over-turning generations of precedent.  I hope I’m not wrong.

I wonder if Roberts would’ve signed on with his conservative brethren if they had not taken such drastic and radical action as to declar the entire law Unconstitutional.

Infographic of the day

Where the immigrants are coming from (and click through to see what jobs they work) via Planet Money:

U.S. Labor Force By Country of Birth

Quote of the day


I heard a peal of delight and turned around — that’s the picture at the top of this post. Hilary Matfess, a young policy analyst, was jumping up and down, yelling out details.

“The mandate is constitutional! It was upheld! Roberts went for the swing vote! Yes! Oh my God! The individual mandate survives as a tax!”

Did you work on passing the bill? I asked.

“No!” said Matfess. “I just have lupus!”


Wow– did they screw up.  Really like this post over at the Post:

The Supreme Court has struck down the individual mandate for health care.

Someone needs to tell CNN: There is no such thing as fashioning a scoop over something that’s released to the public. [emphasis mine]  Here I cite New York University professor Jay Rosen, who repeatedly chants about how cheap it is when news outlets brand as “exclusives” bits of information that everyone will know in a short time anyhow. This afternoon, one day from now, one week from now: No one will notice, care or otherwise take heed that your outlet was the first to report on a Supreme Court decision. There’s not an outlet that’ll own that news. But much heed will be taken of a quick and mistaken interpretation of such a decision.


Photo of the day

Amazing and amazingly distressing and heart-rending set of photos of the Colorado wildfires via the Denver Post:

Waldo Fire

 An entire neighborhood burns near the foothills of Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire continues to burn northwest of Manitou Springs, Colorado today June 26th,2012. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

It’s a tax– hooray!!

To me, here’s the key portion of Roberts’ opinion:

Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes. See §5000A(b). That, according to the Government,means the mandate can be regarded as establishing acondition—not owning health insurance—that triggers atax—the required payment to the IRS. Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance.Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earn­ing income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, itmay be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.

The question is not whether that is the most naturalinterpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a “fairly possible” one. Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 62 (1932). As we have explained, “every reasonable construc­tion must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.” Hooper v. California, 155 U. S. 648, 657 (1895).  [emphasis mine]

Among other things, this has always clearly been a tax, as Roberts makes clear.  The fact that the Democrats never wanted to actually call it a “tax” for political reasons does not change that.  As the emphasized text shows, this is also a model of genuine judicial restraint.

And why do I care so much and am so damn happy?  Because millions and millions of Americans will now be able to have health insurance (and thus better health) than if this were struck down.  Now tell me how that’s a bad thing?  Ezra on the personal implications.


Why the hell not.  My prediction on health care:

6-3 court strikes down Individual Mandate, but leaves the rest of the law intact (if you are concerned about the implications, I presume you are already a regular reader of Ezra).

Next likely outcome: 5-4 to uphold thing completely.

Armageddon, but I genuinely think not very likely: court overturns entire law.  I honestly don’t think either Kennedy or Roberts wants to go that far in either A) politicizing the Supreme Court; or B) blatantly over-turning generations of precedent.  I hope I’m not wrong.

Based on today’s schedule, I will see the result come out while watching CNN in the gym– that feels weird.  Here’s hoping that the result is my predicted 2nd most likely outcome.

The Texas Republican Party

God love ’em– they are like the unfiltered if of modern Republicanism.  Buzzfeed pulled this from the 2012 party platform:

Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Stand and shoot (if you are white)

Via Yglesias:

A little research on the impact of “Stand Your Ground” laws courtesy of Ryan Avent’s Twitter feed:

The controversies surrounding Stand Your Ground laws have recently captured the nation’s attention. Since 2005, eighteen states have passed laws extending the right to self-defense with no duty to retreat to any place a person has a legal right to be, and several additional states are debating the adoption of similar legislation. Despite the implications that these laws may have for public safety, there has been little empirical investigation of their impact on crime and victimization. In this paper, we use monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics to examine how Stand Your Ground laws affect homicides. We identify the impact of these laws by exploiting variation in the effective date of these laws across states. Our results indicate that Stand Your Ground laws are associated with a significant increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males. According to our estimates, between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks. Our results are robust to a number of specifications and unlikely to be driven entirely by the killings of assailants. Taken together, our findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make America safer.  [emphases mine-SG]

It’s difficult to make really persuasive cuasal inferences based on this kind of data, but at a minimum this makes it difficult to believe that Stand Your Ground laws are reducing the risks of violence.

I gotta say, that “especially among whites” bit is quite interesting.  Presumably if I took the time to go to the source, there’d at least be some speculation.  Well, actually, really quick look and it seems that they offer not speculation on this at all.  Should I?  How’s this: maybe Black people know that they shoot somebody they are going to get charged with it no matter what, but white men increasingly think, “hey, I’m standing my ground.”  Anyway, would be interesting to see something delving into this interesting difference.

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