You might know the name Jonathan Turley from his many appearances on the old Countdown with Keith Olbermann show and, most recently, from his vocal opposition to President Obama’s use of drones and NSA surveillance. He’s basically Glenn Greenwald but with a paycheck from the George Washington University Law School, where he’s a professor of constitutional law. Turley also joined Greenwald in reacting with ambivalence toward the Supreme Court’s highly controversial decision in the Citizens United case, which granted corporations constitutionally-protected free speech and the subsequent freedom to contribute untold billions to political campaigns as an exercise of this newly-acquired right.
And now, he’s Speaker John Boehner’s new lawyer in the House Republicans’ lawsuit against President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he’s not just any lawyer in the case, he’s now the lead counsel.
Why? We’ll let him answer:
As many on this blog know, I support national health care and voted for President Obama in his first presidential campaign. However, as I have often stressed before Congress, in the Madisonian system it is as important how you do something as what you do. And, the Executive is barred from usurping the Legislative Branch’s Article I powers, no matter how politically attractive or expedient it is to do so. Unilateral, unchecked Executive action is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in our constitutional system. This case represents a long-overdue effort by Congress to resolve fundamental Separation of Powers issues.
It’s difficult to believe that not only the House Republicans but also a constitutional law professor would be so utterly clueless about the role of the Executive Branch and its bureaucracy in implementing congressionally-sanctioned laws, but there it is. This is precisely what Health and Human Services has been doing with regards to the Affordable Care Act. Implementing it. Suddenly this is unconstitutional.
Take, for example, the so-called “exemption from Obamacare” given to congressional staffers. First of all, it’s not an exemption from the law at all, as we’ve covered many times before. The Executive Branch previously offered insurance premium sharing for government employee health insurance plans as a salary benefit, and this is precisely what it’s done in this case. The government will continue to pay the bulk of insurance premiums just as it did before staffers were forced to buy insurance via the DC marketplace. But evidently doing exactly what it did before is suddenly a separation of powers issue. Turley appears to believe this is the case, which is understandable for screeching mouth-breathers like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), but is unforgivable for a constitutional law professor.
It’s also bizarre that Turley fails to see the constitutional problems commensurate with one branch of government suing another branch. Where does the Constitution authorize or even suggest this course of action as a legitimate means of checks and balances? Say nothing of the fact that the GOP is engaging in what it would otherwise consider to be frivolous lawsuit in spite of its vocal support for tort reform — all of this on top of the idea that it’s setting a dangerous precedent in which lawsuits between branches become the de facto means of checking power in lieu of legitimate constitutionally sanctioned processes.
And finally, here’s yet another example of libertarian-leaning progressives completely ignoring real life issues in order to pursue pet issues. It’s completely tone deaf. This administration, in the face of tall odds and vocal opposition, passed a law no other administration has been able to accomplish — a law that provides affordable (if not free) quality health insurance to anyone who wants it.
But because Turley and his crowd, which includes other privileged crusaders such as Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, David Sirota, Ed Snowden and Marcy Wheeler, see themselves as accountability-at-all-costs evangelists, living by the unrealistic mantra “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” — “Let Justice Be Done Though The Heavens Fall.” Each one of them, as the centerpiece of their activism, ignore the realities of politics and, more importantly, the long-term downsides in undermining laws that have vastly improved the lives of real people. Blinded by privilege and lopsided priorities, Turley’s crowd is clearly incapable of grasping the positive impact of Obamacare as well as other White House accomplishments, and therefore the law must be killed in an alliance with the shallow, obstructionist GOP.