Two weeks ago I provided an update on the state of the lawsuits challenging Obamacare and mentioned that I’d be debating the law’s constitutionality at the University of Washington in Seattle. This event brought my debate tour full circle, because it was UW Law School two months ago that couldn’t find anyone to speak to the serious constitutional defects in the so-called reform.
My debate, against constitutional law professor Stewart Jay, went very well: It was, I hope, both entertaining and enlightening. Curiously, Prof. Jay insisted on repeating that my arguments boiled down to policy disagreements and “rhetorical flourishes.” He also accused me of asking courts to make policy rather than defer to Congress’s constitutional powers. This was all a bit rich coming from someone whose legal arguments focused on standing and ripeness – important in the cases at hand, but 150 people didn’t turn out to hear about technical doctrines – and whose main presentation centered on the need to reform a broken health care system.
Indeed, Prof. Jay repeatedly criticized my unwillingness to tackle the issue of “spiraling premiums” – which I eventually addressed, though I had been under the impression that the debate concerned constitutional law, not how to reform the system or why reform is needed. He also mischaracterized the state lawsuits as focusing on exaggerated claims about the cost of expanding Medicaid. (When the law isn’t with you, argue the facts and when the facts aren’t with you, argue the law – and if both are against you, I guess just be argumentative… )
But don’t take my word for it, watch the whole thing here. Many thanks to the UW chapters of Young Americans for Liberty (part of the Students for Liberty network), Young Democrats, College Republicans, and the Federalist Society – as well the law school itself – for organizing and sponsoring the event.