By Michael Nam
Prior to the Supreme Court hearing arguments that have significant ramifications for the Affordable Care Act, the attorney arguing in opposition to the law’s tax subsidies was featured in a Wall Street Journal profile. Michael Carvin appears to be highly confident in his case, but aside from his purely legal position on the subject, he made questionable statements in discussing an earlier, failed attempt at defeating the current law with his current case.
In contrast, Wednesday’s argument involves “a statute that was written three years ago, not by dead white men but by living white women and minorities,” Mr. Carvin said. “It hasn’t had time to ‘grow’ or ‘evolve,’” he adds, mocking terms liberals have invoked for constitutional doctrines.
The profile then continues with a curious self-description by Carvin.
He cites an unlikely inspiration for his fight: Atticus Finch, who in “To Kill a Mockingbird” defends a Black man charged with raping a white woman in small-town Alabama’s racist justice system.
It isn’t unusual for certain racial and gender issue terms to be used as “dog whistles” in political disputes, and it has been argued that much of the opposition to the ACA has come from a place rooted in bigoted preconceived notions of the type of people who would receive aid from the new regulations. As educator Matthew Lynch once noted in The Huffington Post:
I do think, however, that when statistics about higher illness rates in communities of color are meant to support the need for universal healthcare, most who oppose the law simply don’t care. If it does not have an immediate impact on them, or people like them, they do not want to bear the burden. If anything, the fight amongst the public over the ACA has revealed the still-existent, deep-seeded racism that permeates the culture, 150 years since the end of the Civil War and 50 years since the civil-rights movement.
By saying the law was apparently written by “women and minorities,” Carvin makes the issue for opponents of the healthcare act more than just a politically partisan fight, but one based along lines of race and gender.