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About that 'limiting principle'

03/28/12 05:11PM

Going into the week, there were plenty of phrases related to the Supreme Court's hearing on the Affordable Care Act that may seem obscure to the American mainstream, but were likely to be bandied about quite a bit. Like it or not, we were going to hear about the "necessary and proper" clause, the commerce clause, and "severability."But we've also been introduced to the "limiting principle," which was referenced literally 16 times during yesterday's proceedings. read more

Artist rendering of Paul Clement arguing in front of the Supreme Court yesterday.

There is no 'Cornhusker kickback'

03/28/12 04:40PM

It's not fair for anyone to expect Supreme Court justices to become experts in every area of every law that comes before them. There are simply too many cases, spanning too broad a legal spectrum.That said, it's not unreasonable to think justices should be relatively well informed about the basics of health care law, since literally tens millions of Americans are counting on them to make a fair and reasoned decisions. It makes displays like these rather embarrassing.There was in a strange moment in today's severability argument at SCOTUS. Justice Antonin Scalia referred to a deal that Sen. read more

Never give Antonin Scalia too much credit

Never give Antonin Scalia too much credit

03/28/12 02:45PM

For three days, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been huffing and puffing, making it as clear as he can that he wants to scrap every page of the Affordable Care Act. By this morning, Scalia seemed to think "his position in U.S. government is also Speaker of House, President, and maybe Emperor for Life."His antics this week made me think of an op-ed Harvard Law scholar Laurence Tribe published a year ago, in which he looked ahead to the high court's consideration of the Affordable Care Act. read more

What the Supreme Court thinks of Congress

03/28/12 01:52PM

The Supreme Court spent the first part of the morning debating the "severability" question, and as Lyle Denniston reported, we learned a bit from the proceedings -- most notably what the justices think of Congress.The Supreme Court spent 91 minutes Wednesday operating on the assumption that it would strike down the key feature of the new health care law, but may have convinced itself in the end not to do that because of just how hard it would be to decide what to do after that.A common reaction, across the bench, was that the Justices themselves did not want the onerous task of going through t read more

Marco Rubio is getting ready for his close-up.

Rubio pushes Dream Act 'Without the Dream'

03/28/12 12:39PM

Following up on an item from a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been a senator for about a year now, but hasn't managed to do much of anything. The sum total of his legislative accomplishments? A resolution designating September 2011 as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.As Rachel explained in a recent segment, the Florida Republican "is not a particularly serious guy in terms of what he has done in his Senate life or even as a Senate candidate." That's clearly true. read more

Wednesday's campaign round-up

03/28/12 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:* A new Quinnipiac poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney by seven points in Florida, six points in Ohio, and three points in Pennsylvania. read more

Romney's problem: disliked candidates usually lose

Romney's problem: disliked candidates usually lose

03/28/12 11:20AM

At this point in his lengthy political career, Mitt Romney has had quite a while to introduce himself to the American public. He is, after all, in the midst of his second presidential campaign, and has been on the trail pretty much non-stop for nearly six years.Indeed, Romney is poised to win the Republican presidential nomination, which has kept him the national spotlight consistently for the last year. read more

What Issa considered an 'outright lie'

03/28/12 10:50AM

In February, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), held one of the more notable congressional hearings of the last several years. Issa, hoping to advance the Republican campaign to restrict women's access to contraception, held a hearing on birth control, but the opening panel was made up entirely of conservative men.It led Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to ask a now-famous question: "Where are the women? read more

Ron Johnson, contraception, and the power of the Internet

03/28/12 10:07AM

I've long been concerned about whether Ron Johnson, elected to the Senate in 2010, is really up to the job. After all, the Wisconsin Republican has argued that snow in Greenland is evidence of global cooling; he thinks "sunspot activity" is responsible for global warming; and at the height of the BP oil spill disaster, he said he'd sell his BP stock, just as soon as it was more profitable for him to do so.This week, however, Johnson broke new ground, sharing his unique perspective on contraception access. Scott Keyes asked the far-right senator about the issue, and posted this startling clip. read more

The health care debate -- and the festivities outside -- wrap up at the Supreme Court today.

Day 3 at the Supreme Court

03/28/12 08:36AM

As the legal and political world digests what transpired at the Supreme Court yesterday -- to be sure, this is no easy task -- the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act isn't quite finished. Indeed, though yesterday offered more than its share of drama, it'd be a mistake to overlook the significance of today's proceedings.While Monday featured an argument over the Anti-Injunction Act, a relatively obscure 19th-century law on taxes, and yesterday was all about the mandate the right loved until they didn't, today will tackle "severability" and the ACA's expansion of Medicaid. read more

Morning Maddow: March 28

03/28/12 07:36AM

Romney and Paul allege dirty tricks by Santorum supporters in Missouri.The House has 4 days to pass a highway bill and can't seem to do it.The Santorum campaign claims only 5 paid staffers.The EPA announces historic pollution limits on new power plants.A federal judge acquits the Hutaree Militia of the most serious charges against them.The ever-timely NRA comes out with a concealed-carry hoodie.Somebody stole a statue of the Lorax from Dr. Seuss' house. read more