Follow by Email

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Death by Typo": Krugman Versus the United States Judicial System

What happens when an economist engages in legal reasoning? Answer: Nothing good.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Death by Typo," Paul Krugman decides to weigh in regarding the decision of the US Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of King v. Burwell. King v. Burwell, whose determination could bar health care subsidies to Americans acquiring insurance via federal government exchanges, might have a serious impact upon the future of Obamacare. Krugman writes:

"[I]t now appears possible that the Supreme Court may be willing to deprive millions of Americans of health care on the basis of an equally obvious typo.

. . . .

Once upon a time, this lawsuit would have been literally laughed out of court. Instead, however, it has actually been upheld in some lower courts, on straight party-line votes — and the willingness of the Supremes to hear it is a bad omen.

So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes."

Unfortunately for Paul, this is not all about a "typo." Rather, this is about a statute categorically and systematically saying what it perhaps did not intend to say. See the excellent Washington Post article entitled "What the district court got wrong (and right) in Halbig v. Sebelius" by Jonathan H. Adler. See also John Steele Gordon's article in Commentary entitled "Paul Krugman at It Again," which provides powerful evidence that the statute says exactly what it intended to say.

To what extent is the US judiciary entitled to correct shoddy Congressional drafting? Let's wait to see the US Supreme Court decision. However, there is nothing extraordinary about courts determining the limits of statutory interpretation.

If there was a mistake written into the law, why can't Congress amend the statute? In this instance, the answer is simple: Obama can no longer find a majority in either house of Congress for this unpopular legislation.

Is this a matter of the willingness of the US judiciary "to pervert the law to serve political masters"? Sorry, Paul, I disagree. The United States is not a banana republic.

No comments:

Post a Comment