On Monday, the President made a pre-emptive attack on the Supreme Court because He’s afraid they’re going to vote to overturn ObamaCare on the grounds that part or all of it violates the Constitution. Needless to say, there’s been a huge outcry, and a lot of fuss in the press about it. I commented about it here yesterday to give everyone a heads up before the BBC came in with their spin.
Right on cue, realizing there’s a growing controversy, the BBC whipped up a quick article online laying out the White House talking points. Naturally, it contained the same bit of dishonesty – or, if I’m feeling generous, lack of understanding – as their previous reporting on the law:
The act’s requirement that all those eligible should have medical cover has been condemned as an assault on civil liberties by conservatives
Of course, in actual fact, the law requires people to purchase health care from companies. That’s what the “Individual Mandate” is, which is the key turning point of the entire fiasco. The BBC’s wording here is grossly misleading as to what exactly people are complaining about. No surprise there. BBC correspondent Steve Kingstone said that the President’s attack is “a sign of just how high the stakes are”, but it’s really sign that He doesn’t have confidence in a law He never even read before it was passed.
As for the President’s claim that ObamaCare was passed by a “strong majority” in Congress, that’s also BS. The vote in the House was 219-212, and that’s back when the Democrats controlled it. 34 Democrats voted against it, as did all Republicans. 50.8% isn’t a strong majority. The Senate Democrats had a super majority, and Sen. Harry Reid still had to twist arms and make backroom deals to get the 60 votes to pass their version of it. The President later had to sign an amended bill without what’s been called the “Cornhusker Kickback.” But no BBC journalists have seen fit to mention any of this, either.
It’s no surprise that there has been lots of noise in the media over the last couple of days. Mostly people are calling out the President for getting His history and law completely wrong, although there has been a good amount of defense from the usual suspects in the supportive news outlets.
One interesting example of how badly the President – a former lecturer on Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago – has failed here comes from one of His former students:
Imagine if you picked up your morning paper to read that one of your astronomy professors had publicly questioned whether the earth, in fact, revolves around the sun. Or suppose that one of your economics professors was quoted as saying that consumers would purchase more gasoline if the price would simply rise. Or maybe your high school math teacher was publicly insisting that 2 + 2 = 5. You’d be a little embarrassed, right? You’d worry that your colleagues and friends might begin to question your astronomical, economic, or mathematical literacy.
Now you know how I felt this morning when I read in the Wall Street Journal that my own constitutional law professor had stated that it would be “an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the Supreme Court to “overturn a law [i.e., the Affordable Care Act] that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” Putting aside the “strong majority” nonsense (the deeply unpopular Affordable Care Act got through the Senate with the minimum number of votes needed to survive a filibuster and passed 219-212 in the House), saying that it would be “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” for the Supreme Court to strike down a law that violates the Constitution is like saying that Kansas City is the capital of Kansas. Thus, a Wall Street Journal editorial queried this about the President who “famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago”: “[D]id he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison?”
If that’s not bad enough, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has now directly questioned the Administration if they believe the courts – one of the three branches of the federal government meant to check and balance each other – have the power to strike down a law passed by Congress.
Quite frankly, its a joke. Of course the courts have that power, and as I said yesterday, have been doing it for more than 200 years. And the President knows it. The Attorney General, Jay Holder, has now come out and admitted it.
Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Wednesday that the “courts have final say,” and said his department would respond formally to an appeals court order to explain whether the Obama administration believes judges in fact have the power to overturn federal laws.
The attorney general, at a brief press conference in Chicago, made clear the administration thinks they do.
“We respect the decisions made by the courts since Marbury v. Madison,” Holder said Wednesday, referring to the landmark 1803 case that established the precedent of judicial review. “Courts have final say.”
I guess getting the Constitution and US history wrong is just another nuance of his finely-tuned brain.
This is a huge, huge deal. Except for that one news brief outlining the White House point of view, the BBC has been silent. It’s more important than anything else the BBC is reporting right now, yet they can’t be bothered. Nothing from Paul Adams or Steve Kingstone, nothing from US President editor Mark Mardell, nothing from any of the young people hired in the last year to do all those lightweight magazine-style pieces. The Today programme looked at a court issue from the US today, but it was about a group of journalists wanting Boston College to turn over some recordings of IRA thugs students had made for a history project. Apparently that’s more interesting than a former Constitutional Law lecturer getting the law and history wrong and trying to intimidate the Supreme Court.
I find it fascinating that the Constitution is in the news again, because I remember back in 2010 when the Tea Party-energized Republican majority decided to read the Constitution out loud in the House of Representatives. At the time, the BBC was fretting about the nasty Republicans suddenly causing “acrimony”. Which is funny, because they never had a problem with the Democrat super-majority in both houses of Congress ramming through whatever they wished. Mark Mardell even called it a “golden age”. But are they now suggesting that the President is causing acrimony with His attempt to intimidate an entire branch of the government? Nope. To them, it’s just a sign of how important the issue is.
So where is the BBC coverage of this major story? One news brief isn’t sufficient, especially when it doesn’t even address the real issues. Whatever they do next, you can’t bet that you can’t trust the BBC on US issues, especially when it comes to the President.