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July 8, 2012 11:44 AM   Subscribe

But it is already too late. CNN has been carefully orchestrating its transformation into a shockingly efficient news distribution company. They have been planning to saturate every screen in reach with this story as fast as possible, and the producer’s initial go-ahead pulled the trigger. On the air, Wolf Blitzer is sending the coverage to the Courthouse steps. And as planned the reporter is putting her phone down to go on the air, which cuts herself off from the only CNN employee with access to the opinion. We’re getting wildly differing assessments: SCOTUSblog compiles first-hand accounts of the minutes between 10:06 and 10:15am on June 28, when CNN and FOX misreported and retracted that the mandate had been struck down.
posted by youarenothere (75 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, I was pissed at Diane Rehm. She was about to introduce some political professor in Mexico City and launch into a discussion about the next day's national Mexican elections. Then, she abruptly mentioned what CNN was reporting and they dropped the Mexican elections to talk about the misreported ruling. She gave both herself and NPR (guilt by association) black eyes, and I hope they sat down and had a discussion about not being so goddamned quick on the draw.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


When this initially happened I first thought to myself "omg this is JUST LIKE when people on tumblr reblog alleged celebrity/politician quotes without checking to see if they actually exist or not."

Then I thought to myself "self, you are an idiot."
posted by elizardbits at 11:52 AM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


> people on tumblr reblog alleged celebrity/politician quotes without checking to see if they actually exist or not

Also known as the Santorum Thinks About Gay Sex All The Time Trap.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My reaction to the 24 hour news cycle has been to retrench, to read The Economist in print as my primary news source. It's only published weekly and my issue takes 1–2 days to reach me, guaranteeing it's never up to the minute. It's also thoughtful and nuanced reporting. I still see hourly news updates on the Internet sometimes, but only for the really big news, and it's easy enough to ignore it.

Slower.
posted by Nelson at 12:05 PM on July 8, 2012 [42 favorites]


I would almost concur with Nelson. I have returned from north central Iowa and the entire area and most of Iowa is just plain dull and depopulated (except for the corn)
posted by robbyrobs at 12:15 PM on July 8, 2012


Oh dear, I realized that I've been relying on sources like Metafilter for big news stories, as they would have been filtered for content, relevance and importance. The rest I've been tending to leave the Twitterers to fill me in. The Economist is good but I find myself taking its self serving agenda and slant into consideration as well. The BBC has become pap for the international audience, curating the best bits out for increased advertising draw. The Guardian has its own little agenda but it only bugs me when they patronizingly pontificate on poverty alleviation.

What is news anymore?
posted by infini at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Assorted links worth checking out re: the misreport:

SCOTUS DEFEATS MANDATE

Daily Show segments one, two, three

Colbert's take, with hilarious literary allusions

GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt's nigh-psychotic overreaction to the initial mistaken report
posted by Rhaomi at 12:30 PM on July 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


CNN also falsely reported Goyte committed suicide. Because, you know, twitter.
posted by lubujackson at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt's nigh-psychotic overreaction to the initial mistaken report

Wow. Is that what freedom from socialism sounds like?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


The issue isn't that CNN got the report wrong for a few minutes, it's the idea that anyone really needs to know non-emergency news within 30 seconds of it happening.
posted by octothorpe at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [24 favorites]



GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt's nigh-psychotic overreaction to the initial mistaken report


I want to see her reaction to the corrected news, as I picture it like Nancy Kerrigan sobbing on the floor and wailing WHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow. Is that what freedom from socialism sounds like?

YouTube comment: "I'll have what she's having."
posted by jquinby at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this technology and we're still getting it wrong.
“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
posted by edgeways at 12:39 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not to be missed is Stephen Colbert's take on FOX news's coverage (which starts at the 1:00 mark): "You. Suck. At. News."
posted by Catblack at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


SCOTUS DEFEATS MANDATE

Meet Gary He, creator of the Obama-as-Truman meme
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great piece. Thanks for the post.
posted by churl at 12:55 PM on July 8, 2012


Seconding what churl just said. Thanks for sharing this. Amazingly compelling read. I got my news that day from SCOTUSBlog, and boy am I glad I did.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:56 PM on July 8, 2012


I am so, so glad CNN and FOX got it wrong. They absolutely deserve the black eye.

Maybe two black eyes.

I just wish they'd learn something from this mistake, but chances are good they'll just keep operating the same way and never understand that it really was their own fault that they slammed their faces into their desks so hard.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:59 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt's nigh-psychotic overreaction to the initial mistaken report

With less than 2000 views it seems that most of her constituents haven't seen it yet.
posted by Brian B. at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2012


That was a great read. Amazing to see what went on in just a few minutes.

This was key: "both CNN and Fox exposed themselves to potential failure by ... treating the decision as a breathless “breaking news” event, despite the fact that everyone knew when the opinion was going to be released (and the mandate won’t take effect until 2014), while at the same time"

Very unprofessional.
posted by Petrot at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


For me, the takeaway quote from the article:

I told him: “We’re not racing you”; in a decision this long and complicated, “no one will remember if you move this story first or we do,” but the “only thing anyone will ever remember is if we f*** it up.”

Maybe SCOTUSblog will get press credentials next term.
posted by sbutler at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's really interesting to me about this is the anger. There was only a two minute lag between the CNN/FOX error and SCOTUSBlog's correct report. Yet the hostility displayed in the comments is staggering:
Opponents of the Act, having seen the television reports, are incredulous and vocal in their responses: Guest, “WHAT???”; Guest, “no reports says its gone!”; Republican, “OMFG”; Tim, “No it isn’t”; Ryan, “Bullshit”; Guest, “apparently you have it wrong”; Sarika, “IT IS NOT SURVIVING AS A TAX!!”; Fred, “It sounds like you guys are spinning this thing. Knock it off and read the law!”

Others have seen enough to know that they need another news source: Guest, “I’m outta here. Turning on TV”; David, “I won’t be back to this site.”

And some indicate we are simply too late, and that Fox and CNN’s earlier reports are res judicata on other journalists: John, “They already struck it down”; Guest, “The mandate is GONE.”
I think that, depending on the outcome of the election, we're in for a very interesting spring of 2013.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the part where SCOTUSblog stayed up during a deliberate DDOS attack, but the SCOTUS' own website crashed under the load of normal visitors wanting the result.
posted by localroger at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Brian B.: GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt's nigh-psychotic overreaction to the initial mistaken report

With less than 2000 views it seems that most of her constituents haven't seen it yet.
I'm unsure how many versions of this exist, but the version linked by SCOTUSBlog has more than 30K views, and a related video from The Young Turks show has more than 45k.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


> The issue isn't that CNN got the report wrong for a few minutes, it's the idea that anyone really needs to know non-emergency news within 30 seconds of it happening.

That's a problem that's pretty difficult to correct given the way television news works these days, I think. Pretty much all of these networks (at least the 24 hour ones) seem to get the same information from more or less the same sources. This means that other than deciding what if any editorial/partisan spin to put on the information they report, there's nothing they can really do to one-up their competitors. Other than speed.
posted by monolith at 1:22 PM on July 8, 2012


At 10:07:32 – 52 seconds after the Chief Justice began speaking – Bloomberg issues an alert: “OBAMA’S HEALTH-CARE OVERHAUL UPHELD BY U.S.SUPREME COURT.” Bloomberg is first, and it is right.

So roughly twenty-two seconds was the difference between major media outlets making idiots of themselves. All they had to do was read further down the syllabus. It would be hilarious if it weren't so goddamned sad.

Okay, I take that back; it's hilarious because it's CNN and Fox.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


ob1quixote : I think that, depending on the outcome of the election, we're in for a very interesting spring of 2013.

I don't really prefer either candidate over the other, and I don't feel strongly for or against Obamacare (I believe in universal healthcare, this just ain't it).

I have, however, started rooting somewhat for Obama solely to avoid having to hear our "leaders" rehash this damned health care law again, which will unavoidably happen if Romney wins.

We seriously need a new rule of Congressional procedure - No congresscritter can rant publicly about any pet issues until they take care of keeping the lights on (ie, pass a damned budget) first.


monolith : That's a problem that's pretty difficult to correct given the way television news works these days

Views before News, dude. Simple as that.
posted by pla at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The most hilarious part of this is that two major news networks made total asses of themselves over reporting something that doesn't take effect until 2014. They reported so quickly and looked like utter dolts and untrustworthy buffoons in the service of being 551 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds before the individual mandate actually affects anyone, rather than the obviously too-late-to-do-anything 551 days, 13 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds when some of the more sober outlets reported the news.

Interesting note: SCOTUSblog is uncredentialed as journalists, yet C-SPAN just showed a feed of their live blog on television.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:39 PM on July 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


This means that other than deciding what if any editorial/partisan spin to put on the information they report, there's nothing they can really do to one-up their competitors. Other than speed.

But that that's pretty much why I don't watch any TV news so they've lost me as a customer. If they actually spent the time to do some real reporting and do informed analysis, I might watch CNN again but if they're just going to be the Twitter of TV news, I can just read Twitter.
posted by octothorpe at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2012


Judicial Federalism and the Tragedy of Gonzales v. Raich, by
Michael Ramsey. Via The Volokh Conspiracy.
One may argue that something as abstract and ephemeral as “legal culture” can’t determine the views of life-tenured Justices. That’s likely true of particular judges and in particular cases. But in close cases there will be Justices who are uncertain and whose votes will be needed; and for them the legal culture will matter, both because they are products of it, and because they will hesitate to stand against it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2012


If they actually spent the time to do some real reporting and do informed analysis, I might watch CNN again but if they're just going to be the Twitter of TV news, I can just read Twitter.

Perhaps CNN and FOX are counting on their viewer demographic being made up of those who don't generally go to Twitter to hear the latest rumors. So while the gaffe may be professionally embarrassing and fodder for political blogs, does this mistake substantially affect their bottom line?

They may have lost you as a customer, but how many of you make up their customer base?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2012


SCOTUSblog is uncredentialed as journalists

In the US, where journalists aren't required to register with the government or anyone else in order to report, a credential is meaningless except to the organization or personality who wants to limit access to their event or information. I've worked for major magazines and newspapers for the past 6 or so years, and the only times I've had a credential was for access to major league sports events and a couple of high-level political events (I didn't need a credential for any of the NH GOP primary this year though...all the candidates want more coverage whereas credentials only serve to limit coverage).

CSPAN showed their work not because the blog has been crowned "journalism" by some nonexistent governing body but because they do good reporting and have earned a level of trust from this reporting, as we see here. A journalist is a journalist because he or she reports fairly and accurately. What CNN and Fox are is another matter...
posted by msbrauer at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


They may have lost you as a customer, but how many of you make up their customer base?

I don't know but I did watch CNN pretty regularly from the beginning until sometime in the early aughts when it just got too stupid to endure.
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoever made the decision to only release the opinion on the Court's website should resign immediately.

The Court’s own technical staff prepares to load the opinion on to the Court’s website. In years past, the Court would have emailed copies of the decision to the Solicitor General and the parties’ lawyers once it was announced. But now it relies only on its website, where opinions are released approximately two minutes later. The week before, the Court declined our request that it distribute this opinion to the press by email; it has complete faith in the exceptional effort it has made to ensure that the website will not fail.

But it does. At this moment, the website is the subject of perhaps greater demand than any other site on the Internet – ever. It is the one and only place where anyone in the country not at the building – including not just the public, but press editors and the White House – can get the ruling. And millions of people are now on the site anxiously looking for the decision. They multiply the burden of their individual visits many times over – hitting refresh again, and again, and again. In the face of the crushing demand, the Court cannot publish its own decision.

The opinion will not appear on the website for a half-hour. So everyone in the country not personally at 1 First St., NE in Washington, DC is completely dependent on the press to get the decision right.

....


Because the Act is important to stock prices, stock traders will have a very rare opportunity to arbitrage the conflicting media reports and the fact that no one outside the Court has the opinion. The market had been betting against the mandate surviving. That would have been bad for hospitals (which would lose revenues) and good for many insurers (which could be more selective in their customers). Now hospital stock prices begin to spike: Hospital Corp. of America, the nation’s largest private hospital chain, quickly rises from $27.38 to $29.35. Many insurance stocks start to tumble: United Health Group falls from $58.69 to $55.73.


Would really love to know if any of the Justices were involved in the decision to only release via the website.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:52 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the US, where journalists aren't required to register with the government or anyone else in order to report, a credential is meaningless except to the organization or personality who wants to limit access to their event or information.

A personal anecdote about this, unrelated to the OP but illustrating the principle...

A long time ago the National Hot Air Balloon Race moved to Baton Rouge, LA. The first year it was there my wife and I made the trek to check it out, and because we we were getting into photojournalism we brought our camera and business cards and signed up for the journalist rides. There was no barrier to entry at all; we asked to be put on the list, and we were put on the list.

Of course the list is then prioritized, and we knew our chances of getting a balloon ride were slim with representatives of all the usual media present and ahead of us in the queue. Then on the second day of the race they had a fatal accident, their first in many years. Someone had not prepared their balloon properly and it fell out of the sky.

After that free balloon rides became much less popular with the press and amazingly we heard our names being called in the big press meeting. We shared the Budweiser promotional balloon, which was not competing in the race, with a reporter for the Times-Picayune and his daughter. He was in turn a replacement for the TP reporter who was supposed to be there and had bowed out -- I actually had to show him how to use his own camera. So thanks to press chickenhood my wife and I got a front row seat basket to the first Baton Rouge balloon race, and a balloon ride that would have cost several hundred bucks if we had just went to one of the services that provide them and paid for it.

So yeah, press credentials in the US don't count for much except to certain entities that make their own rules for who they will accept. All that press badge really does is put you at the head of a line. After this, though, I think SCOTUSblog might get a bit more consideration from the target of their reporting.

Oh, and should you ever get a ride in the Budweiser hot air balloon, be aware that there is in fact free beer in the van during the ride back to the launch point.
posted by localroger at 3:38 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]



Why hasn't Obama fixed the daily show's fascist/socialist/communist geoip copyright restrictions yet?
posted by srboisvert at 3:46 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that the 24-hour news cycle is to blame. Any "breaking" story not involving the emergency broadcast system is usually improved by a few hours contacting alternative sources and some editorial review. And I find it depressing how the networks deal with the always-on news cycle. Rather than devoting that time to in-depth documentary coverage, what we get is a parade of barely qualified talking heads over-emoting outraged speculation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:52 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the US, where journalists aren't required to register with the government or anyone else in order to report, a credential is meaningless except to the organization or personality who wants to limit access to their event or information.

I thought it was clear from the context and it's certainly described in the article linked, but the point isn't that SCOTUSblog isn't credentialed with the National Balloon Race or whatever, but with the Supreme Court Of The United States, the organization in question, and that they didn't directly have the credentials to hear the decision or get a copy of the decision, the event and information in question.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:57 PM on July 8, 2012


Whoever made the decision to only release the opinion on the Court's website should resign immediately.

Good grief, that's overreaction. There actually isn't any reason pertaining to the mission of the USSC that its opinions need to be available seconds after the announcement. It's not that long ago that there would have been a limited number of printed copies carted over from the GPO and that's ... all there would be. I don't, as a taxpayer, have any interest in making sure that a constitutionally mandated body of our government is actually supporting the profit motives of the 24/7 cable news industry.
posted by dhartung at 4:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


the point isn't that SCOTUSblog isn't credentialed with the National Balloon Race or whatever

The misunderstanding was clearly with methods used in other countries, where there are actual journalist credentials that have universal import. Such things do not exist in the US.
posted by localroger at 4:09 PM on July 8, 2012


Being English, I am completely baffled by all of this, from the healthcare situation to Obama's actual bill to the legal challenge. How can this work? Why are judges deciding this? I can't remember this happening ever in the UK. If anyone would care to explain or point me to somewhere with an explanation (that is easy to read and understand - 5th grade) I would appreciate it.

The video of the Senator lady shaking and wailing was unreal. This whole misreporting is unreal. Go USA!
posted by marienbad at 4:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


But it should have had a better back-up plan, including distributing the opinion immediately by email to reporters and to the government much more quickly than it did (sending one at 10:29). The fact that the Court initially released the opinion only in physical form to the media at the Courthouse made it much more difficult for others to resolve the conflicting media reports. The White House could not review the decision to tell the President what had happened. And many millions of dollars were gained and lost in the markets based on which media reports traders and investors happened to be watching.
....
At the White House, there is more to the story than the spin that the President believed the Administration had lost the case only for a very short period of time. In fact, for at least a few minutes he thought the opposite and for more than five minutes, he had substantially worse information than many Americans.




You don't think it's ridiculous that even the President couldn't get a copy of the decision, because the Court refused to e-mail it to the Solicitor General's office? Really? I think it's shameful that the Court is limiting the distribution of its opinions in this bizarre fashion.

In years past, the Court would have emailed copies of the decision to the Solicitor General and the parties’ lawyers once it was announced.

There's just no rationale I can think of for limiting the distribution of electronic versions of SCOTUS opinions to the Court's website, particularly one of such magnitude. It's 2012, not 1999.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:35 PM on July 8, 2012


Being English, I am completely baffled by all of this, from the healthcare situation to Obama's actual bill to the legal challenge. How can this work? Why are judges deciding this? I can't remember this happening ever in the UK. If anyone would care to explain or point me to somewhere with an explanation (that is easy to read and understand - 5th grade) I would appreciate it.

The video of the Senator lady shaking and wailing was unreal. This whole misreporting is unreal. Go USA!


I'll have a go! I'm a Kiwi so find it about as weird as you do.

1. America has a whacky health system, pretty much everyone agrees it costs way more and delivers much less than it should.

2. However! Fixing it is a legislative graveyard of presidencies, not least because there are restrictions on what the Federal government can do . These restrictions are in the Constitution and the Supreme Court decides how and when they apply.

3. So Obama proposed a fairly modest change to the US health system, the PPACA (aka OBAMACARE). The PPACA will do a bunch of things, but the important one is that it extends health insurance coverage in a range of ways and, to pay for it, encourages everyone to buy insurance, by making them pay higher taxes if they don't. This is the 'mandate' everyone is talking about.

4. To help it pass, Obama made sure the mandate was a close copy of a state-level scheme set up by conservative Republical nominee Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.

5. You may ask why conservatives are so up-in-arms about a conservative scheme? Because Obama, my English friend. Because Obama.

6. So, because Obama, a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the mandate was brought to the Supreme Court. The key point at issue was whether the Federal government could impose a penalty on someone who didn't buy health insurance, specifically, whether or not this counted as 'regulating interstate commerce' (which is something it's allowed to do under the Constitution).

7. Out of 9 judges, 4 said DESTROY THE WHOLE THING, 4 said WHOLE THING IS FINE and one said MANDATE IS ACTUALLY TAX AND FED GOV CAN TAX STUFF SO THING IS MOSTLY FINE.

8. Upshot: Obama wins! Republican tears flow freely!
posted by Sebmojo at 4:43 PM on July 8, 2012 [33 favorites]


How can this work? Why are judges deciding this?

Briefly, Marbury v. Madison, an 1803 case which determined that the Supreme Court has final authority on determinations of constitutionality. While that finality is not written into the Constitution itself, which decrees that all three branches of government (judicial, legislative, and executive) have equal authority, this decision has meant in practice that for two centuries any disputes go as far as the Supreme Court and their decision is effectively final -- at least until someone brings a case before them turning on a different interpretation of the law, or until Congress and the President pass legislation which works around whatever obstacles the court has effectively set up. As flawed as this process is, it's the way we've come to expect things to work for some time now.
posted by dhartung at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The issue isn't that CNN got the report wrong for a few minutes, it's the idea that anyone really needs to know non-emergency news within 30 seconds of it happening.

If your business is trading stocks and you are trying to decide whether to buy/sell insurance or hospital companies' stock, then hell yes it matters even though the law may not go into effect until 2014. There is a huge economic value in being first to market with the news, which is why we have built a communications infrastructure that provides virtually instantaneous transmission at negligible marginal cost for much of the globe.

For context, I'm rereading a favorite book on the history of WW2 at the moment, and was struck this morning by the descriptions of the negotiations leading up to the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact; it took 3-6 hours for telegrams to go back and forth between the two cities, so every 3rd or 4th telegram from Berlin was a question about why things were taking so long.

And I find it depressing how the networks deal with the always-on news cycle. Rather than devoting that time to in-depth documentary coverage, what we get is a parade of barely qualified talking heads over-emoting outraged speculation.

I much prefer watching Charlie Rose at night (where you can have up an hour of one-on-one discussion with experienced political actors, and get really into the details of a subject). But the ratings are dismal by comparison to mainstream news programs.

How can this work? Why are judges deciding this?

In the UK, this task (assessing the constitutionality of legislation) would fall to the law lords in the upper house. Here in the US, such things can be litigated by state or even private attorneys general.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:52 PM on July 8, 2012


anigbrowl: "If your business is trading stocks and you are trying to decide whether to buy/sell insurance or hospital companies' stock, then hell yes it matters even though the law may not go into effect until 2014."
Then let the stock traders pay for a website that is massively over-dimensioned for 99.9% of the SCOTUS's needs and extra clerks to email decisions, if it's so damn important to them. Or, heck, pay an intern to go to the courthouse and call you from his mobile. Why should the court (and the tax payer) care about that?
posted by brokkr at 5:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


extra clerks to email decisions

Getting the information out doesn't require an expensive website or "extra clerks". All you need is one reusable e-mail distribution list (consisting of journalists, if you didn't want to bother looking up the counsel for parties named on the opinion) in Outlook or your mail client of choice. Attach pdf of opinion. Press send. No extra expenditures required. Heck, if they didn't want to do it, all the Clerk's office would have to do is send a pdf of each opinion to SCOTUSBLOG. I'm sure Lyle Dennison would have no problem sending it out.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:18 PM on July 8, 2012


Oh, and should you ever get a ride in the Budweiser hot air balloon, be aware that there is in fact free beer in the van during the ride back to the launch point.

There's free beer, or there's free Budweiser?
posted by axiom at 5:21 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


He was a loose cannon, he didn't play it by the book... But when the highest court in the land needed some minor IT work done--he was the only man for the job. DEADLY GAVELS.
posted by fleacircus at 5:26 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've found this whole episode really troubling, especially the way folks I talk to back in the States -- on both sides -- have gotten so wrapped up in it. That video of the congresswoman is viscerally disturbing.
posted by junco at 5:32 PM on July 8, 2012


Thanks for the post! I've now read it and several of the other posts regarding the ACA on scotusblog. All this discussion of the mandate has made me sort of - I dunno - bemused? It seems to me that most of the persons wailing and bemoaning the act already have some form of insurance. So it's irrelevant to them. And most of the people without health insurance want it but just can't afford it, which is the whole problem the act is trying to address, right? The number of people that would be affected by the tax imposed for choosing not to get insurance seems so tiny!
posted by kavasa at 5:48 PM on July 8, 2012


Thanks for the post! I've now read it and several of the other posts regarding the ACA on scotusblog. All this discussion of the mandate has made me sort of - I dunno - bemused? It seems to me that most of the persons wailing and bemoaning the act already have some form of insurance. So it's irrelevant to them. And most of the people without health insurance want it but just can't afford it, which is the whole problem the act is trying to address, right? The number of people that would be affected by the tax imposed for choosing not to get insurance seems so tiny!
posted by kavasa at 2:48 PM on July 8 [+] [!]


BECAUSE.

OBAMA.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


BECAUSE.

OBAMA.


And socialism. Don't forget the socialism.
posted by notme at 6:45 PM on July 8, 2012


I just got back from a cross-country road trip. Going across the great open spaces of the west and midwest, hitting the scan button a lot, I was able to hear basically three things on the radio. Christian stations, right-wing talk radio, and NPR.

So I was scanning, and hit some right-wing talk radio. A woman was speaking, telling the host that her family was in agriculture, and how she was "terrified" of what this was going to mean to her family...

Terrified? Really??

And then the host totally validated her ridiculous position. It was sad.
posted by Windopaene at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2012


How can this work? Why are judges deciding this?

Simpler version:

If you have a written constitution, it's easy to pass a law that might or might not be consistent with the constitution.

In these cases, when someone who doesn't like the law raises reasonable claims that it violates the constitution and so is void, someone has to make the determination whether it is kosher or treyf.

The people who decide about possible conflicts between laws are judges.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:30 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


How can this work? Why are judges deciding this?

To make a law there are obstacles in other branches of government that are meant to prevent bad stuff from happening. First, there's the bicameral thing, where both the Senate (6 year terms, 2 per state) and the House of Representatives (2 year terms, 435 seats, allocated by population) have to agree on and pass the same bill. After that, it has to survive presidential veto. The US constitution explicitly defines what laws can do. If somebody challenges a law as being something the legislature is not allowed to do, or having ramifications inconsistent with the constitution, the courts rule on the legality and tweak or toss out laws. In this case several states challenged the law in lower courts with varying outcomes and it was eventually picked up by the Supreme Court.
posted by floam at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


dhartung: The concept of judicial review does not come from Marbury vs. Madison alone, but Federalist No. 78, as authored by Alexander Hamilton.

To the person wondering why the Supremes' opinion matters so much in this country, and might even be more confused by the above: The Federalist Papers were written Hamilton (first Treasury sec), James Madison (member of House of Reps., Sec. of State under Jefferson, 4th Prez) and John Jay (first Supreme Court chief justice), under the pseudonym "Publius," with the intent of explaining and winning ratification for the then-newly proposed US Constitution, and are considered to be a key to understanding the intent of the Constitution's framers.
posted by raysmj at 8:48 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This long talk by Justices Breyer and Scalia explains some of these concepts and I found it rather interesting.
posted by floam at 9:11 PM on July 8, 2012


I very much like the second-by-second breakdown of major news outlets going 180 degrees wrong. At least a century ago, it was day-by-day.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:36 AM on July 9, 2012


In the UK, this task (assessing the constitutionality of legislation) would fall to the law lords in the upper house.

Not exactly. First, the Law Lords have been replaced, since 2009, by the UK Supreme Court. Secondly, because of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, the UK Supreme Court doesn't have the power to strike down legislation passed by Parliament. (The existence of the European Court of Human Rights makes the situation slightly more complicated, but the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, aka the 'omnicompetence of statute', still holds good.)

This is one of the basic constitutional differences between the UK and US, which is why UK observers find it so difficult to understand the role of the US Supreme Court (not helped by the fact that the British tabloid press is constantly sniping at 'unelected judges'). I find the US system utterly bizarre and undemocratic (no parliamentary sovereignty?!), but I have to keep on reminding myself that our system appears equally bizarre and undemocratic (no written constitution?!) from a US perspective.
posted by verstegan at 2:15 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The CBS live reporting by Jan Crawford which can be seen at 0:50 of this video is incredibly impressive. You see her get the paper copy, read the first two pages while speaking, and report the correct information at 10:08:50 (based on the SCOTUSblog article's timestamp when reporting her assistant's own live-read).

I'm sort of weird, but after reading this article about how wrong one can get it, I teared up a bit watching her 60 second performance.

Actually, on a second viewing, it appears she is listening rather than reading... probably most likely that a producer is reading the SCOTUSBlog posting in her ear.
posted by pjenks at 2:45 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mass Media 101... news about the news, is not news. But then again is anything we see on the screen news?
posted by GreyFoxVT at 3:14 AM on July 9, 2012


I find the US system utterly bizarre and undemocratic (no parliamentary sovereignty?!)

In other words, the United States has constitutional checks on government power.
posted by John Cohen at 5:01 AM on July 9, 2012


I thought it was interesting how CNN's on-air reporter initially made an accurate report -- that the individual mandate wasn't supported under the Commerce Clause -- but then she extrapolated in an effort to fill time by announcing that the mandate had been struck down. I can imagine the producer (who probably has a law degree) thinking "That's not what I said!" By the time he could pass along what the next page of the decision syllabus said, the entire network had run with the error.
posted by stopgap at 6:15 AM on July 9, 2012


Mass Media 101... news about the news, is not news.

What? Journalism and journalists should be subject to the same scrutiny as those they report on. Dismissing stories about an entire field as "not news" is a bit glib, no?
posted by IvoShandor at 10:30 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cracks Appear in Republican Unity on Health Law Repeal
posted by Anything at 4:44 PM on July 9, 2012


I thought's Sebmojo's summary was quite good. The only thing I'd really take exception to is this:

"2. However! Fixing it is a legislative graveyard of presidencies, not least because there are restrictions on what the Federal government can do . These restrictions are in the Constitution and the Supreme Court decides how and when they apply."

Until Randy Barnett and a bunch of conservative legal "scholars" came along and invented this absolutely comical "activity/inactivity" distinction, no one thought that the mandate was unconstitutional. Indeed, I (and I'm sure many others) still think it's a perfectly reasonable exercise of the Commerce Clause.

But even if you do find the mandate constitutionally worrisome, the irony is that there's no question at all that a more expansive healthcare program—namely, single-payer—would be 100% constitutional. That's because we already have such a program, Medicare, which provides medical care to those 65 and up. "Medicare-for-all" would have been legally unassailable; it was just politically impossible to pass.

So Obama pushed Romneycare instead because, you know, it was a Republican program, and because the conversation almost inexorably moves rightward in American politics, it was perceived as politically safer and more palatable to move forward with this sort of crazy hybrid program. In the end, of course, consistency doesn't matter to the GOP—they opposed Obama's version of Romneycare because, as you say, Obama. (Though it's not specifically Obama Derangement Syndrome at work. They would have proposed any Democratic plan put forth by any Democratic president and/or Congress.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:15 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's just no rationale I can think of for limiting the distribution of electronic versions of SCOTUS opinions to the Court's website ....

Well, for one thing that means there is a single authoritative source for Supreme Court rulings.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:49 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is one of the basic constitutional differences between the UK and US, which is why UK observers find it so difficult to understand the role of the US Supreme Court (not helped by the fact that the British tabloid press is constantly sniping at 'unelected judges')

I've heard people explain that in the following manner: In the UK, the Parliament is supreme. In the US, the constitution is supreme.
posted by the cydonian at 12:03 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


CNN High Priestess Nancy Grace has presided over the required blood sacrifice in honor of the Gods of Media. CNN should be spared indignities like this again, at least for the foreseeable future.
posted by homunculus at 12:50 AM on July 10, 2012


SMARTNESS!

posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:15 PM on July 9 [+] [!]


This is all spot on, I left it out for simplicity.

BECAUSE OBAMA contains multitudes.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:43 AM on July 10, 2012


Then let the stock traders pay for a website that is massively over-dimensioned for 99.9% of the SCOTUS's needs and extra clerks to email decisions, if it's so damn important to them. Or, heck, pay an intern to go to the courthouse and call you from his mobile. Why should the court (and the tax payer) care about that?

The question I was addressing was about why anyone would need super-quick access to news, not about how SCOTUS should distribute its decisions.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:46 AM on July 10, 2012


(oops - posted too soon.)
In other words, that's why there's a market for all-news channels like CNN that make a fetish out of speed.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2012


Not exactly. First, the Law Lords have been replaced, since 2009, by the UK Supreme Court. Secondly, because of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, the UK Supreme Court doesn't have the power to strike down legislation passed by Parliament.

Thanks for that information. I haven't lived in the UK for a decade and had not paid close attention towards the institution of the UK Supreme Court.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:54 AM on July 10, 2012


The Boehner Bunch
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on July 11, 2012


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