Washington Lawyer


From Washington Lawyer, February 2011


I just finished reading Joan Indiana Rigdon’s cover story, “Does ObamaCare Violate the Constitution?” which appeared in the January 2011 issue of Washington Lawyer. I wanted to thank you, Ms. Rigdon, and the contributors who were interviewed. Although I am a lawyer, I had only a passing understanding of the constitutional issues involved with ObamaCare.

Ms. Rigdon’s article, along with the interplay between the perspectives of the different lawyers (especially Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin and Georgetown Law Center professor Randy Barnett), really helped me to understand the constitutional questions raised by this legislation. I really appreciate your treatment of a complicated and rather controversial subject in a clear and even-handed manner. 

—Scott Elmer
Memphis, Tennessee

The clarity and objective analysis in Joan Indiana Rigdon’s cover story about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unfortunately were overshadowed by the political bias implicit in the headlines on both the issue’s cover and the article itself.

Asking “Is ObamaCare Constitutional?” and “Does ObamaCare Violate the Constitution?” as the January issue did, requires the reader to accept as neutral a label that opponents of the legislation used in the 2010 campaign as a political epithet—“ObamaCare.” 

I suppose those opponents could argue that calling the bill “health care reform” would be equally biased, since they do not see “reform” there—although, had I been composing those titles, I might have suggested “Is the ‘No Free-Loaders’ Provision Constitutional?”

In all, your reputation for fairness and analytical balance would have been better served by something more apolitical such as “The Constitutional Debate Over the New Health Law.”

—Alan J. Roth
Washington, D.C.

I am appalled that the D.C. Bar permitted a blatantly right wing political viewpoint to color its choice of both the January 2011 cover, “Is ObamaCare Constitutional?” and cover article, “Does ObamaCare Violate the Constitution?” 

It is widely understood that the only organizations that use the term “Obama-Care” are Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. It is a pejorative term that makes it clear which side of the fence the user is on as soon as it is uttered. I do not think I have ever seen it used in The Washington Post or The New York Times or most other reputable publications. It is certainly inappropriate for the D.C. Bar to use that term, and worse, give its imprimatur to what has been limited to far right Republican–leaning organizations.

You have really besmirched Washington Lawyer and the members of the D.C. Bar. I think we are really owed an apology.

—Steve Fox

Editors’ Note
We apologize to those who were offended by our use of the term “ObamaCare,” but we respectfully disagree that it is exclusively pejorative or is only used by those expressing a conservative political viewpoint. Our word choice was made only as a shorthand reference for the law’s full name, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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