The cluelessness of the Supreme Court

Another Obamacare case yesterday, and somehow the conservative justices are either A) not smart enough, or B) willfully ignorant (I’m with B) to understand how the law works.  TPM:

As Solicitor General Donald Verrilli tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to make clear, that idea shows a basic misunderstanding of how the Affordable Care Act works. It also ignores basic concepts about how insurance functions, and it completely misses the whole reasoning behind including the preventative care provision in Obamacare in the first place. Furthermore, the proposition has virtually no chance of survival in the current political climate.

“The idea is pretty much at odds with everything about how insurance works,” Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an email to TPM…

The logic that the conservative justices put forward Wednesday that somehow the challengers’ health plans had been “hijacked” by the government is also divorced from health care reality, Jost said.

“Some of the justices don’t seem to understand how employee benefits works,” Jost said, arguing that government has always imposed requirements on plans, dating back to ERISA in 1974 and state laws before that.

“[The government has] always ‘hijacked’ employee benefit plans for carrying out various public purposes,” Jost said. “Again, I don’t think they really understand how these various things work.”

Here’s all the logic you need– conservatives just got to hate Obamacare.

Discrimination in NC

Just kind of amazing what has happened here.  Under the cover of “protecting women and children” in bathrooms from non-existent transgender predators, NC Republicans have unleashed a sweeping new discrimination law.  Oh, they try and be sneaky about it, but we’re not dumb.  Basically, they said NC cannot discriminate based on sex, race, religion (already got that covered– thanks 14th Amendment and Supreme Court), but that no NC municipalities can extend anti-discrimination provisions any further.  In other words, they enshrined the legality of LGBT discrimination in state law.  And that whole local government knows best?  Not so much.  NC Republican legislators always no best, damn it.  Lovely bunch, these folks.  And all in the course of a single day with no time for public comment, etc.  So wrong on so many levels.

I particularly enjoyed the FB response from super-legislator, Jeff Jackson“:

“But Jeff, I didn’t like the Charlotte ordinance! Why should I care what just happened in Raleigh??”

Because you just got played, that’s why.

The ordinance was used as political cover to pass a sweeping bill that was written in secret, unveiled at the last minute, rammed through in 12 hours, does all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the ordinance, has likely jeopardized our state’s business recruitment, and has generally embarrassed us nationally.

And here’s my point: It was all because a few politicians saw this as a golden opportunity.

The truth is, folks in Raleigh could not care less about the ordinance.

The person who ran the bill in the Senate is a Republican running for Attorney General. His colleagues always let him give the first speech about the bill and you’ll never guess who he blames for all this: the current Attorney General! You know, the same guy who *literally* had nothing to do with any of this.

For good measure, the state Republican party released an attack ad against the current Attorney General on this issue yesterday morning, just as the special session got started. What a coincidence!

Our Republican Governor – the one who originally refused to call a special session because he said he didn’t want a broad bill that dealt with matters beyond the ordinance – signed the bill anyway, just before midnight. His political incentive for caving? His veto would have been overridden and his legislative agenda would have been blocked as punishment for even trying to stand firm. And even though he doesn’t like this bill, he’ll still campaign on it. Watch.

The Republican leadership in the state House and Senate is terrified of a Donald Trump nomination. They think this is a great issue to protect their gerrymandered seats, so they’re going to use this issue to run absolutely vicious ads – the type we’ve really never seen before in North Carolina – this fall. So get ready for that.

Bottom-line: Even if you strongly opposed the ordinance, please know that this bill wound up having almost nothing to do with it. These guys grabbed your banner and marched right off a cliff, on your behalf.

That’s why, no matter how you felt about the ordinance, ‪#‎WeAreNotThis‬.

David Graham in the Atlantic:

Once released, it was clear that the legislative language was more sweeping than expected. Not only does it prevent local governments from writing ordinances that allow people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender with with they identify, it also preempts cities from passing their own nondiscrimination standards, saying the state’s rules—which are more conservative—supersede localities. Local school district would be barred from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate. The bill would also ban cities from passing their own minimum-wage laws.

It’s a striking example of how North Carolina’s Republicans have decided that culture-war issues ought to take precedence over traditional conservative preference for local control. But they also pit the North Carolina GOP’s professed desire to improve the business climate in the state against social conservative impulses. Representative Paul Stam, a sponsor of the bill, called it a commerce bill, but many large corporations have stated their opposition to this law and others, concerned that they could interfere with business or hiring.

Oh, and about the business climate.  Businesses are not happy.  Just look anywhere on-line.  NC is the embarrassment of the nation today.  That’s not good for business.  How out of touch can a legislature be?

Mark Joseph Stern argues the whole thing is clearly unconstitutional:

HB 2 is also unconstitutional—not maybe unconstitutional, or unconstitutional-before-the-right-judge, but in total contravention of established Supreme Court precedent. In fact, the court dealt with a very similar law in 1996’s Romer v. Evans, when it invalidated a Colorado measure that forbade municipalities from passing gay nondiscrimination ordinances. As the court explained in Romer, the Equal Protection Clause forbids a state from “singl[ing] out a certain class of citizens” and “impos[ing] a special disability upon those persons alone.” Such a law is “inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class it affects,” and under the 14th Amendment, “animosity” toward a “politically unpopular group” is not a “proper legislative end.” Just like the law invalidated in Romer, HB 2 “identifies persons by a single trait”—gay or trans identity—“and then denies them protection across the board.” The Equal Protection Clause cannot tolerate this “bare desire to harm” minorities…

This artful workaround cannot save the rest of the bill. Under Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan, courts must attempt to glean whether a law with a disparate impact on minorities was motivated by discriminatory intent. To do so, courts examine several factors—all of which align chillingly with HB 2. For example, does the challenged law disproportionately affect one minority? (Yes.) Does the “historical background” reveal “a series of official actions taken for invidious purposes”? (Yes—the stated purpose of the law was to overturn Charlotte’s LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance.) Do the events leading up to the law depart from normal decision-making procedures? (Yes; the legislature rammed the law through in record time with minimal discussion.) Does the legislative history reveal governmental animus? (Absolutely: From the start, Republican legislators have vocally supported HB 2 as an effort to disadvantage LGBT people.)

Just damn.  I may not be able to make fun of Alabama and Mississippi in my classes for much longer.

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