Justice Scalia – actually, yes, we DO expect you to read the health care law

During the oral arguments over the health-care law, Justice Scalia got big laugh lines when he expressed horror that anyone would actually expect them to read the 2,700-page law:

“You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?”

Seriously, this is the biggest case in years (decades?), and he’s horrified that he might actually have to spend a few days reading it? This is about what the typical law student reads every week. And Justice Scalia can’t be bothered?  He can’t even delegate it to his clerks?

Let’s remember what’s at stake here:

To be clear, the Affordable Care Act is a very long bill, and it includes far more than just a provision requiring people to buy insurance. It has expanded insurance coverage for millions of people by allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until 26, and it prevents insurance companies from denying someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Scalia is brushing off a bill that could dramatically expand affordable health insurance to the 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured — that is, so long as the Supreme Court does not strike down the entire law. (source)

So yes, Justice Scalia, actually, we DO expect you to read the bill. 

Now to be fair, many members of Congress have likely not read the bill either, and I can’t say for sure whether the President has himself.

Megyn Kelly brought this point up when I talked about this on Fox News today (scroll down for video), and I think it’s a fair point.  Why should Justice Scalia be expected to read it when the members who voted for it didn’t?

Now, I’ll agree, it would be ideal if all the members and the President read the full complete bill.  But I do think there’s a big difference, because the members and the President spent the better part of an agonizing year crafting, debating, and voting on all kinds of components of the bill.   Thus, while they might not have read the final bill line by line, they’d gone over its components again and again and again.

We can’t say the same about Justice Scalia.  I assume he paid some attention to the process, as did many other intelligent, interested Americans.  But he simply wasn’t anywhere near as involved as the members themselves.  And in fact, he demonstrated his ignorance of the final bill when he referred derisively to a part of the law, the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback,” that wasn’t actually IN the final law (something I’m willing to bet the Members and President surely knew when they were deciding its fate).

So yes, before Justice Scalia rules on what might be the case of the century (well, maybe excluding Bush v Gore), I actually DO think he should at least know what he’s ruling on.  And if that’s too much trouble, then he should frankly recuse himself.  Seriously, we’re talking about a few days of reading.   Is it really asking that much?


About John Hlinko

John Hlinko is a frequent political pundit on TV, and the founder of Left Action, a network of over 1 million activists. He is also the author of, "Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread," ranked by Amazon.com as the # 1 "hot new release" in web marketing in early 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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13 Responses to Justice Scalia – actually, yes, we DO expect you to read the health care law

  1. Pingback: John Hlinko on Fox News, w/Megyn Kelly, 4/6/12 |

  2. Dennis Maher says:

    My congressman in 2010, Scott Murphy (D, NY 21st) DID READ EVERY PAGE of the AHC Act. For his trouble, he was defeated by a tea party ideologue, Chris Gibson.

  3. Al Reichelt says:

    Megyn Kelly – What is amazing about her is that she clearly believes that if somebody did not do “due diligence” on their job in understanding the bill, then nobody should, even those who have been entrusted with the final determination of the validity of the bill. The Supreme Court justices should not be expected to read the document they will pass judgement on. Totally mind blowing moral position to take. But what do you expect from a Murdock company anyway?

  4. Jill Klausen says:

    Hi John. Great post. As far as I’m concerned there’s no excuse for him not to have spent even a small part of his time each week for the past 100+ WEEKS, reading the thing. He’s known since the day it was passed that it would end up in his lap. Nothing like waiting until the night before the exam to bother to study, huh? The fact that he hasn’t made even the slightest effort in two full years to read this legislation is, frankly, offense.

    Rant over; now a favor. Will you start referring to the bill as the Patient Protection Act, please? Here’s why:http://reelectdemocrats.blogspot.com/2012/04/health-care-reform-framing-language.html


  5. Jill Klausen says:

    OMG, and I’m a copy editor. ::facepalm::

    “Offense” should be “offensive,” of course.

    I blame the Passover wine. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

  6. charcoal says:

    Please stop referring to it as a bill. It is a LAW. The fact that Scalia referred to it as a bill is very distressing, as one would hope a supreme court justice would understand the difference.

  7. Vic Meredith says:

    Half of congress skipped reading it before voting. Wasnt it Pelosi who said “pass it and then find out what is in it” so she didn’t think it was important to read it first. Do you think Scalia was being a bit facetious?

  8. Marlene B. Wallace-Tranowski says:

    I guess our reasonable ‘hopes/expectations’ are dashed as far as Justice Scalia is concerned. How much is his salary? A little (or even a lot of) reading would hurt?

  9. Gail Lindholm says:

    Uh, you don’t get to be a Supreme Court Justice without reading massive volumes of law and case law. And you don’t have dozens of law clerks and interns sitting around napping instead of tearing the Law and related precedent into digestible bits of analysis. Heard of satire? Maybe if Congress had actually read, debated, and understood even the cursory implications of the Bill before they passed it into law, Obama and company wouldn’t be faced with the imminent humilation of the visceration of the crowning “Obamacare” legacy. Of course, they’ll blame the Court for sloppy work. If Congress can’t be bothered to read, explain and defend the Laws they pass, then the Court will have to clean up the mess – that’s their job. Haste makes waste, and abdication of Congressional accountability should end up in the High Court. Only the most naive reader can’t see the not-so-subtle jeer on the part of Scalia. Whether you are for or against the Law in part or whole, the actions of Congress were negligent, self-serving, and not in the interest of creating a viable solution.

  10. Pingback: The Iowa GOP, err, Tea Party - Page 6 - CycloneFanatic

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