TagSupreme Court

ObamaCare upheld

While I’m loathe to calling it ObamaCare, it has been referred to as such by both parties enough so as to negate any perceived negativity that it was intended to begin with. ObamaCare or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was upheld (with caveats) by the Supreme Court of the United States today. In a surprising and unexpected move, the Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal judges in saving Obama’s landmark and signature legislative achievement. While the law in full is difficult to explain in its entirety, this Reddit comment comes close to explaining it like you’re a five year old.

However, the majority opinion on why the case was in front of the Supreme Court and why was it in danger of being stricken down can be best explained by SCOTUSBlog‘s succinct summary:

“In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

If you read the above two links, you will know more about ObamaCare than 95% of Americans who identify with it purely on ideological grounds. Of course, it is not the perfect solution but given the politics and the dire situation of healthcare, it is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. If you aren’t satisfied by these two links, you are free to read the full official opinion as written by the Justices or the full text of the bill. You may be intimidated by the legalese. It takes reading more than half a dozen such opinions to get the hang of it; something that I had to do for my Law and Planning class (by the end of the class, I had actually begun to enjoy reading briefs and opinions).

What this means for Obama’s electoral chances is a secondary concern but for millions of uninsured and underinsured, it is a much-needed relief from the uncertainty of the past two years. If the GOP, that is head-scratchingly staunchly against any healthcare reform, gets to control both houses in the Congress and the White House, they may choose to repeal it (remote possibility but still a possibility). So in that sense, it is very important politically for those who care, to get out and vote in November.

Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court

Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court following David Souter’s retirement last month, the first Hispanic woman to be nominated to the post. The nomination process is expected to go through smoothly but not without crazy outbursts from the far-right fringes of the Republican Party. But one at least expects them to get the name of the candidate they are opposed to right. Especially from a former Presidential contender.

Journalist Needs Help

After much brouhaha on the Supreme Court ruling last month regarding rights of expression online, it was summarized that this ruling merely implied that the defendant was not excused from prosecution. We can argue ad nauseaum about the merits of such a ruling but the fact remains that the defendant neither has not yet been found guilty nor has a precedent been set for blogger rights. Some bloggers had sounded the death knell for opinion blogging in India but I remain skeptical although I do believe that the current law elaborating on freedom of speech is anti-democratic and subject to rampant abuse. Any law that has exceptions for exceptions is. But you would expect the mainstream media with its high journalistic standards and professionalism to be much better than bloggers in PJs, right? Well, check out this article on IBN Live by Pallavi Paul [hat tip: Vimoh].

Do you open up most when you’re online? Well, don’t.

I love the way she opens her article by reprimanding you immature bloggers who shoot your mouth off at the slightest hint of injustice (or coffee stains). So if you want to be honest with yourself and share your feelings even if they aren’t libelous, Pallavi says no. Karan Johar would concur and says, parents know best. But then parents can’t blog either just because they finally figured out how to go online.

Thanks to a recent observation by the Supreme Court, which could become a template for all future cases.

I knew it! The Supreme Court saves all judgments and rulings as a .dot file and simply replaces the blogger’s name and their URL for future cases. Ok! that may be a bit unfair. We all know that typewriters are still the rage.

“There are so many charges against Ajith, such as x, y, z. Our constitution does not allow such activity so it is not acceptable,” says Cyber lawyer Karnika Seth.

Pallavi then quotes a cyber lawyer (sounds like a task for Chris Hansen), Karnika who I think may have told her what those “x, y, z” charges were. But you see, space is such a premium even online that you wouldn’t want to waste precious megabytes kilobytes bytes bits that would go into mentioning those charges that are so pertinent to this case. Unless the Constitution explicitly charges you with crimes against humanity if you blog using the characters x, y, and z. We’re a vowel-friendly nation.

There are punishments for posting obscenity, inciting public disharmony, intimidation, even defamation. The problem is that how will these laws be interpreted.

Err…that actually makes sense and sounds insightful in recognizing the core problem. Wait a minute, am I reading a blog?

In the heat of the Mumbai attacks, Cheytanya Kunte blogged against journalists revealing vital info on TV. He was forced to apologise by the channel.

Let me get this straight, after all the megabytes (yup, we bloggers buy memory by the megabytes) spent in discussing the Cheytanya Kunte case, you think he was punished for revealing vital info? What do you think he is, Abdul Qadeer Khan? He was charged with libel, threatened with a lawsuit, and asked to remove his post which he did. It wasn’t like a teacher saying “now go say sorry to your friend for punching him”. Even if we differ on whether his words were libelous or not, at least mention the correct charge that NDTV had lobbed on him. I don’t expect Watergate-ish journalistic research but use the damn Google. And what’s with “info”, seven more characters and your editor would have fired you? Or just too Twitter-ized? But given your “x, y, z” lines, this is Pulitzer-worthy.

Gaurav Sabnis complained about the standards of teaching at a Management institute. His write-up was forced off the net. Rashmi Bansal, who wrote about the same topic faced the music too.

Now we are entering territory that may makes Pallavi look absolutely inept as a journalist. As Gaurav explains, his “write-up” was NOT forced off the net and it still exists. The entire IIPM brouhaha was about forcing his “write-up” off his blog which he refused to do and resulted in IIPM getting bitch-slapped by the blogosphere. I again remind Pallavi of her research classes in journalism school or do as we bloggers do, use Google. But at least you got it partly right when you write Rashmi “facing the music” (we love our metaphors, don’t we?) Can you care to elaborate on the music that certain anti-social elements associated with IIPM were threatening her with?

The article then cites loopholes in the existing law by quoting Amit Varma and Rashmi Bansal. But concludes with a gem:

So, next time you upload a video to youtube or a photo to Flickr, message your friends on Facebook or update your blog make sure you aren’t breaking the law.

Bloggers, remember the “x, y, z” ways in which you can break the law? Pallavi asks you to remember those when you go about your Web2.0 ways.