Friday's Three Cents

  • Linda Greenhouse, formerly The New York Times' Supreme Court reporter and now teaching at Yale Law School, tapped on the Commonwealth of Virginia's shoulder and reminds it that the civil war is over. Looking at the state laws and lawsuits launched in reaction to the new federal health-care statute, she writes:

    Although the courts that have struck down the law have glossed over the point -- oddly enough, given that conservative judges are usually obsessively attentive to the doctrines of standing, ripeness, and other barriers to entry to federal court - the state plaintiffs can't meet the basic requirement of standing: a concrete, immediate "injury in fact," caused by the action that is being complained about. The individual mandate, as such, imposes no obligation on the states. ...

    Greenhouse moves on to quote the Fourth Circuit panel that scoffed at Virginia's challenge to the health-care law, saying in part: "A state possesses no legitimate interest in protecting its citizens from the government of the United States. ... Virginia lacks the sovereign authority to nullify federal law." That went out in, oh, roughly, 1865.

  • That Elizabeth Warren quote that went viral this week summarizes the progressive point of view brilliantly. It will make conservatives rabid -- and I'm no longer sure I believe that's a good thing. I am completely puzzled about how we back out of this level of confrontation, with our government flipping back and forth between extremely different political philosophies, each side in a frothing fury about how to take back their country. Is it too late to take up that question of secession again?

  • The Center for Immigration Reform did an analysis of the new Texas jobs created under Governor Rick Perry ... and says that 81 percent were taken by immigrants, whether here legally or not. Won't it be interesting to hear what Governor Perry says about that?

  • The British government is looking into opening marriage to same-sex couples. Right now, Britain has a "civil partnership" scheme that's something like a civil union -- different, of course, because British marriage and social welfare laws are different from ours, and so its second-tier option is also quite different. (No one in England is persuaded to get married to be listed on a partner's health insurance, for instance.) But that's not the only takeaway I got from the announcement. Check out this quote from the BBC:

    The government has said it is committed to changing the law in England and Wales to allow gay marriage by 2015.... Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone told the Lib Dem autumn conference that current laws were "simply not fair".

    Equalities Minister!! Britain has an Equalities Minister! I'm jealous!

  • You and I rolled our eyes last week when Michele Bachmann made the crazy comment that the HPV vaccine -- which can help prevent cervical cancer -- is "dangerous." But public-health experts groaned, concerned that she's seeded an idea that can never really be removed from public consciousness. They've spent years fighting the pernicious falsehood that childhood vaccines have been linked to autism. That claim has been proved to have been based on falsified data; actual scientific studies have shown it to be untrue. And yet so many parents still refuse to vaccinate their children that measles and whooping cough have become problems for schools once again. (Clara Jeffreys, co-editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, tweeted that the vaccine-haters are the left's version of climate-change deniers. But I don't see the anti-vaccinators as political at all; they're health faddists, the kind of people who drink unpasteurized milk -- riddled with deadly bacteria -- because it's more "real.")

    Denise Grady at The New York Times details the public-health community's fears that Bachmann's allegation will endanger lives. But the bigger problem is the common fear that giving a 10-year-old girl a vaccine against the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted illness that can lead to cancer, will encourage her to have sex. Right. Just like giving her a tetanus shot encourages her to go jump on rusty nails.

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