Health Care Media Race Race & Justice

SCOTUS Healthcare Arguments Today (We Hope), & Thinking About Trayvon Martin


Say what? Can it be true that, after all this lead up, the Supreme Court won’t begin hearings on the Affordable Health Care Act on Monday? Really????

Uh, yeah. Apparently it’s quite possible the Supremes may decide that, legally speaking, they’re jumping the gun in hearing the case—or at least on the most important part of the challenge. (No matter what, the court will hear the Medicare expansion part of the arguments on Wednesday).

Both David Savage of the LA Times and Robert Barnes of the Washington Post have stories on this perplexing turn of events.

As an introduction, you need to know that everybody involved—the Obama Administration and the challengers from the various states, et al—want this sucker—ahem….this Constitutional challenge—to move forward now, for crying out loud.

Here’s a clip from Savage’s article (which I’ve excerpted from the Sac Bee, although it will also be in the LA Times but, as I write this, it isn’t on the LAT site yet).

The Supreme Court’s opening day of arguments on the health care law will not focus on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Instead, the justices will consider whether the legal challenge to it has arrived too soon.

The problem is the Anti-Injunction Act, which dates to 1867. It says, “No suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person.”

Question: How does this figure in the health care case?

Answer: It could block a suit against this key part of the health care law if it imposes a tax. The law seems to say that no one can sue over a tax provision until he or she has paid the tax.

Q: How is the Affordable Care Act a tax law?

A: During the debate over it, President Barack Obama insisted it did not impose new taxes. However, people who do not have minimum health coverage in 2014 will be assessed a “penalty” to be paid on their tax return, which will be due in April 2015.

And here’s a clip from Barnes in the WaPo.

The Supreme Court begins its constitutional review of the health-care overhaul law Monday with a fundamental question: Is the court barred from making such a decision at this time?

The justices will hear 90 minutes of argument about whether an obscure 19th-century law — the Anti-Injunction Act — means that the court cannot pass judgment on the law until its key provisions go into effect in 2014.


At the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the requirement that almost all Americans either obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The question the court will consider Monday is whether that penalty should be considered a tax. And if it is, does the Anti-Injunction Act mean that courts must stay out of the way until someone is actually required to pay it?

The first time that could occur is when someone files a tax return in 2015, because that is how the penalty would be collected.


Thus far, WLA hasn’t commented or reported on the heart-shattering story of Trayvon Martin’s death, in part because so much has already been said and written, thus I wasn’t sure what exactly we could add to the conversation.

But speaking personally, the main reason I’ve not written about the issue is because every time I stare at Travon’s photo, rather than being inspired to post something wise and meaningful, I find that I am simply struck dumb with grief for his mother—and for his dad, and the rest of his family of course too. But I am a mother of a son, so it is to Sybrina Fulton that my deepest sorrow goes.

If course, Trayvon is far from the only young person to die tragically and violently these past weeks. LA’s Youth Justice Coalition head, Kim McGill, tells me they’ve buried five of their own young members in the past two months. (I’ll have more on the five in the future.)

But some deaths get to you more than others; perhaps in that way they stand in for stand in for all the others. Travon Martin’s is one of those deaths.

Still, as much fearful empathy as I feel for Travon’s mother Sybrina, I do so with the understanding that there is one part of her experience that I cannot adequately feel into, at least not in the bone-deep way that many other American parents, sadly, can.

That difference has to do with the fear described in this story by Jesse Washington writing for the Associated Press. It is titled “Trayvon Martin, my son, and the Black Male Code,” and I’ve excerpted it below. But I urge you to read the whole thing.

I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He’s only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him.

We were in the car on the way to school when a story about Martin came on the radio. “The guy who killed him should get arrested. The dead guy was unarmed!” my son said after hearing that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman had claimed self-defense in the shooting in Sanford, Fla.

We listened to the rest of the story, describing how Zimmerman had spotted Martin, who was 17, walking home from the store on a rainy night, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. When it was over, I turned off the radio and told my son about the rules he needs to follow to avoid becoming another Trayvon Martin — a black male who Zimmerman assumed was “suspicious” and “up to no good.”

As I explained it, the Code goes like this:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

Read the rest. It’s worth it.


Howard Kurtz asked that question on CNN on Sunday, and opened it for a round-table discussion you can read here.

I can’t say that the discussion is brilliant or even all that insightful, frankly, but listening in may stimulate your own thinking. (Really, I think Jon Stewart had the right take when he said of another big story that the media has two settings: blackout….and circus.

In truth, I think, the better question is what made the mainstream media finally snap awake. I credit Trayvon’s parents who refused to let the injustice of their son’s death go unnoticed and, together with supporters, were able to frame a clear narrative around the shooting of their son, together with a good picture, that gradually got the press’s attention—and has kept it. In a similar way, Kelly Thomas’s father in Fullerton exhibited the same well-focused determination, in which he was clear about what the story needed to be, and managed to keep it in the news rather than letting it be reported on once or twice and then vanish without a trace. As a result, Jim Thomas may get some kind of justice for his son.

Moreover, the rest of us should be grateful that Trayvon’s parents did not let their son’s death go unrecognized. As a consequence, out of their sorrow we are being shoved into having another round of the national conversion about race that we very much need to continue to have, but too often avoid.


Here’s Marion Wright Edelman (pictured above) president of the Children’s Defense Fund, with her own thoughts about Trayvon Martin, what his death should signify.

Here’s a clip:

….Just as sadly, Trayvon’s death was not unique. In 2008 and 2009, 2,582 black children and teens were killed by gunfire. Black children and teens were only 15 percent of the child population, but 45 percent of the 5,740 child and teen gun deaths in those two years. Black males 15 to 19 years-old were eight times as likely as white males to be gun homicide victims. The outcry over Trayvon’s death is absolutely right and just. We need the same sense of outrage over every one of these child deaths…

Photo by AP, for the Children’s Defense Fund


  • Four out of five armed robbers wear HOODIES

    Within a four-hour period in Salinas last Friday night 3/23/2012 five unrelated armed robberies occurred, with four out of five of the robbers wearing hoodies.

    Police said the series of holdups began at 6:35 p.m. when two men walked into O’Reilly Auto Parts, 43 S. Sanborn Road, and one of them drew a small chrome-plated revolver and demanded money.

    O’Reilly Auto Parts at 6:35 p.m. — (Revolver) The robbers, described as Latino, in their 20s and wearing black hoodies

    Work World at 6:37 p.m — (semiautomatic pistol) The robber, described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 300 pounds and wearing a black hoodie

    Hebbron Alley at 7:44 p.m. — (knife) the robbers were described as Latino, all wearing black hoodies and dark pants.

    Quick Stop market at 9:03 p.m. — (Shotgun) The robber wearing a black hoodie, a white cloth mask, black shirt and black-and-red baggy plaid shorts with black socks and shoes.

    East Market Street at 10:37 p.m. — (Knife) The robbers were three teenage boys and a teenage girl..

    Regardless of feel-good liberal hoodie protests or a Million Hoodie March, hoodies have become the standard dress for robbers and thieves, and as a result they foster mistrust.

    The fact is that MOST robbers appear to wear hoodies to hide their faces, making the hoodie almost like the modern day bandito bandanna.

    This has become such a problem statistically that the LAPD started the “Hats Off!” pilot program

    This has become such a problem statistically that the LAPD started the “Hats Off!” pilot program last year requesting that business patrons remove their hats and helmets and pull sweatshirt “hoodies” from their heads before entering.

  • I cannot disagree more with your take on the Trayvon Martin tragedy’s coverage and analysis. Zimmerman probably showed, at a minimum, bad judgement. Martin’s judgement was even worse – the evidence supporting him attacking Zimmerman is much stronger than the alternative.

    But Zimmerman was convicted in the press long before the media discovered the inconvenient truth that the guy is just as Hispanic as Obama is African-American! Oh, and Obama shooting off his mouth about this was way beneath the seriousness one would expect of a President – and also prejudiced any trial that might result. Dumb, wrong and incendiary – a hat trick for our racial “uniter, not divier,” for sure!

    None of us know all the facts yet, but the main stream media has been doing a remarkable job of showing only one side – the side that supports the really tiring narrative of “evil white guy guns down innocent black out of racism.”

    The MSM, the left, and especially the shameful phony “civil rights leaders” seem only interested in feeding this unsightly frenzy of of racial grievance mongering. For example, have you ever heard the term “white-Hispanic” before? I sure haven’t – it sounds made up to support the white-on-black narrative. Heck, if a white guy had killed Zimmerman, we would have been hearing about an evil white guy killing a Hispanic – especially if Zimmerman was instead named Rodriguez.

    As for hoodies… they serve a fine purpose of concealing the face, and the intent and interest of a potential attacker. I don’t know about you, but if I encounter someone in a hoodie, it makes me pretty nervous, and that’s not racism. It’s not an accident that gangsta clothing is what real, armed, and dangerous ganstas wear.

    As for Travon’s parents, trademarking his name shows real class and depth of mourning.

  • The murder of Trayvon Martin isn’t so much about race, as much as it’s about civil rights for ALL citizens, of all races.

    We live in a society today where violent maniacs like George Zimmerman think it’s perfectly ok to stalk someone, accost them, attack them, then shoot them when they fight back, solely because they “look suspicious”.

    This started after 9/11. And at that time, it was somewhat warranted, although even then it was haphazard and a breeding ground for closeted bigots. When Americans watch thousands of their fellow citizens leap to their death out of high rise buildings, however, there will obviously be a stern reaction. That was 10 years ago. This post 9/11 vigilance has taken on a life of its own. And while its humble beginnings involve foiling potential terrorist attacks, today it’s all about foiling a car break-in, because of course your car stereo getting jacked is the same thing as 3,000 people being killed.

    I suppose consumerism and greed could play a role in this, too. People thinking their “shit”, as the late George Carlin would put it, is more valuable than the freedom and privacy of their neighbors. Nonetheless, like with all reactionary, foolish security cults, their subjects of interest are always young black males and “hoodies”.

    Regarding Zimmerman’s claims of self defense. He was told by the police dispatch not to follow Martin. He does anyway. While he was under no legal obligation to comply with the dispatch’s instructions, you’ve got to be hoping there’s as little evidence as possible out there of you PURSUING the person you were supposedly defending yourself from, if self defense is going to be your claim.

    Zimmerman said he was beaten by Trayvon, and received cuts. Yet a video released Wednesday shows Zimmerman with no cuts or blood anywhere on his body, just a half hour after the incident. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnel also points out how easily Zimmerman hopped out of the police car, with his hands cuffed behind his back and with no assistance; a bit spritely and nimble for someone who’d just been beaten profusely by a 10 foot tall, savage burglar. In this video, Zimmerman didn’t appear dazed. Didn’t appear exhausted. Didn’t appear confused or frightened. He didn’t exemplify any traits of someone who’d just been on the losing end of a physical altercation. Remember, he’s claiming self defense as a reason for SHOOTING AND KILLING a 17 year old! You shoot and kill a child in the name of self defense, you should look something like Rocky at the end of his first fight with Apollo Creed, not as if you’ve just awoken from a pleasant afternoon nap. I’m not buying. The US Dept. of Justice isn’t buying. And I believe most Americans aren’t buying.

    I think this is going to be a landmark case, that will be a turning point for this (no doubt NRA endorsed) culture of heavy breathing over-vigilance, and will hopefully result in some kind of repeal of Florida’s absurdly dangerous “Stand Your Ground” law. I certainly hope so.

  • Dear Justice,
    The original conflict between Martin and Zimmerman was not about race, but about a legally armed man getting his head slammed into the cement by a 6’2″ football player that didn’t like being followed. He then did what he was legally allowed to do when fearing for his life and shot the attacker. This action likely kept him from more serious injury.
    The rest of the story is ALL about race, from the radical left wing media to the racist president. And I would like to know WHY Zimmerman is referred to as a “White-Hispanic” when Obama is not referred to as a “White-African American”.
    I really don’t care if you “buy” it or not. The witnesses, who didn’t know either of the men, have said that Martin attacked Zimmerman, had bloodied and beaten him, and Zimmerman had to be treated by paramedics (yeah, I know, they are also part of the vast, white conspiracy, right?).
    Regarding the Stand Your Ground law, I wonder how far an overweight man would get running from a linebacker with evil intent. Probably about three steps before being slammed into the ground anyway (which, by the way, he was). So I don’t think that particular law even applied here. When presented with being pounced upon and pummelled, the man made the decision to save his life by shooting his attacker.
    Was it foolish to get involved in the first place? – YES!! Make the call, and let the police handle it. Following someone you suspect of criminal activity without backup, communications, protective gear, and TRAINING is exceedingly dangerous, as this case shows. It is a tragedy that a young man got killed, as it always is. The circus that is occurring now, and the ill informed emotions that it is enflaming, is making a mockery of our laws, our society, and our people. It is being done for political gain, and the protestors are just useful idiots for those manipulating them.

  • The police station surveillance video, which shows George Zimmerman without a scratch, debunks any account by any supposed eye witness involving Zimmerman being “bloodied and beaten”.

  • The police station video is
    1. taken AFTER Zimmerman was treated by paramedics, and thus cleaned up.
    2. taken at a distance and out of focus, so you can’t see any details
    3. shows that Zimmerman was handcuffed, and therefore DEFINITELY in police custody.

    The cops took their case to a DA, who rejected prosecution because there was not enough evidence that Zimmerman committed the crime of murder, or even manslaughter. The cops do not like “wanna-be” citizens that try to act like police. They would prosecute him if they could.
    The next day, Zimmerman was photo’d and the bruising (which takes several hours to show) was very evident where his nose was broken.
    Zimmerman was a fool to get as involved as he did, but he did not break a law, according to the Florida District Attorney. The pending Grand Jury may decide to indict him, because they are basically a rubber stamp that only will hear a prosecutor’s side of a story. The prosecutor addressing them will be VERY politically motivated to accuse Zimmerman of murder, so the Jury will probably go along.

  • lol. They just decided to take no pictures of his fresh wounds. OK.

    “The prosecutor addressing them will be VERY politically motivated to accuse Zimmerman of murder, so the Jury will probably go along.”

    Sometimes we just have to do things for the better good. Doesn’t bother me.

  • “Sometimes we just have to do things for the better good”

    Funny, the last time I heard that line, it was in German, in the 1930s.

  • Re: comment 8.

    That comparison would be more fitting if Jews in the 1930s had hunted down German teenagers with hoodies and shot them for looking suspicious. Zimmerman is no victim.

  • Well, according to the policemen, paramedics, witnesses who were actually there, and the DA who actually read the case and rejected filing charges, he was. The cops didn’t want to make Zimmerman a victim, but had no alternative.
    Now, mass hysteria, led by a media with an agenda, want him arrested anyway. The New Black Panther party has a bounty out for him. Not to arrest him, but to kidnap or kill him. And the media is giving them play. If the Panthers are not pushing a racist agenda, why don’t they have a bounty out for all the suspects who kill thousands of black children every year? Maybe because the suspects are black?
    The media has an agenda. They always do. As I said before, this was a tragedy. Zimmerman was a fool. But I won’t call him a criminal yet, because it hasn’t been proven. I am a believer in individual rights, and I think they are being trampled on to appease a group with a racist agenda.

  • The New Black Panther Party…give me a break.

    That outfit and FoxNews have been feeding off of each other for the better part of a decade now. What a sideshow.

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