I can’t believe Goldy hasn’t posted this yet:
The University of Washington billed it as a debate among distinguished law faculty over whether the new federal health-care law is constitutional.
But while the four panelists at a packed event Tuesday may have differed on some of the finer points, they all agreed on the big question: They said the new law passes constitutional muster and that various lawsuits arguing the opposite — including the one joined last week by state Attorney General Rob McKenna — have little merit or chance of success.
Even John McKay, the former Republican U.S. attorney for Western Washington (who was forced out in 2006 under contentious circumstances) said that while he sympathized with some of the political issues in play, he thought the lawsuits lacked merit. In fact, he questioned the timing and thrust of the cases: “One way to say it is, that this has to be seen as a political exercise,” he said.
Moderator Hugh Spitzer noted the lack of a vigorous dissenting voice.
“I will say that we tried very hard to get a professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional,” he said. “But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand.”
Spitzer, an expert in state constitutional law and a UW affiliate professor, said afterward that organizers even considered setting up some kind of video conference to provide the counter perspective. But in the end, he said, the lack of professors taking that position spoke to the merits of the arguments. He said organizers did not invite McKenna because they wanted to stick with academicians.
Maybe they could get someone on the Seattle Times editorial board instead.
Well, I had been working on a post, but since Lee beat me to it, I’ll just tack on a couple comments here.
First of all, I watched the entire forum live via the TVW feed, and while it was rather striking how unanimous the participants were on the lack of merit of the lawsuit, good law professors that they are, they did make every effort to explore all the angles and underline which legal points on which the attorneys general have the best chance of succeeding. It’s just that nobody thought their best chance was much of a chance at all.
Which brings me to the Times article, and its focus on the lack of dissent at the forum. I’m not sure why reporter Nick Perry should have been so surprised, as the lawsuit has been almost universally condemned by legal scholars as meritless. Unless, of course, Perry’s starting point was his own paper’s editorial page, which vigorously insists that McKenna has a “good case.”
The problem is, unlike the legal scholars participating in this forum, the Times’ editors are about as familiar with constitutional law as they are with the inside of their own colons. Indeed, considerable less so.
So note to journalists everywhere: there aren’t always two sides to every story. Sometimes there are multiple sides. And sometimes, one side simply has its head up its ass.
UPDATE, UPDATE (Goldy):
After reading the initial bit of trolling in the comment thread, attempting to discredit the forum because moderator Hugh Spitzer (gasp) contributes to Democrats, I’ve decided to embed the TVW video below. So now folks in the thread have no excuse for being ignorant. (Or at least, no more of an excuse than they normally do.)