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Methinks the Simon Lazarus Doth Protest Too Much

By Jonathan Keim | September 2nd, 2014

Last week, Simon Lazarus published an editorial that probably set a record in a new category: Most Words Discussing a Brief Opposing a Petition for Rehearing En Banc. The editorial discusses Halbig v. Burwell and its sister case, King v. Burwell. (Halbig and King, you probably remember, are the two leading challenges to Obamacare tax subsidies that the IRS is giving to all state and federal exchanges, whether or not the exchange was, in the words of the statute, “established by the State.”)

There’s a lot to laugh about in the piece, especially the use of overheated adjectives. The headline calls the plaintiffs “brazen” while the URL calls them “shameless.” In the first sentence of the piece, Lazarus characterizes the plaintiffs’ brief’s title as “forbidding.” The brief title? Really? Also amusing: his use of the word “blinkered,” which (perhaps coincidentally) appears in the government’s petition for rehearing, where it was an oddly disrespectful description of the panel decision. Lazarus even throws in the old canard that “textualists” have an “intense preoccupation with dictionary definitions.” (Never mind that in Halbig and King, the key definitions are all set out in the statute itself.)

But Lazarus isn’t primarily interested in his old talking points about mean old textualists and their deviant affection for dictionaries. Rather, his main thrust is to talk liberals down off the ledge of purposivism:
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