"Words mean what they say," I wrote in my Washington Examiner column one week ago. But, as I added, not necessarily to a majority of justices of the Supreme Court. The targets of my column were the majority opinions in King v. Burwell and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.
In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts interpreted the words "established by the state" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as meaning "established by the state or the federal government," even though the law itself defines "state" as the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Fourth of July is a time to remember Americans who have contributed much to their country, and this Fourth weekend is a good time to remember two such Americans who died in recent weeks -- and whom I'd had the good fortune to know and joust with intellectually since the 1970s -- Allen Weinstein and Ben Wattenberg.
For most people, words mean what they say. But not necessarily for a majority of Supreme Court justices in two important decisions handed down Thursday.
In the most prominent, King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 6-3 majority, ruled that the words "established by the state" mean "established by the state or the federal government."
Is the world back to where it was around the year 1800? One could come to that conclusion after reading British historian John Darwin's recent book "After Tamerlane," which assesses the rises and falls of empires after the death in 1405 of the famously bloodthirsty Muslim Mongol monarch.
Hillary Clinton has relaunched her campaign on Roosevelt Island with a 4,687-word speech. But it's not clear whether she and her husband, Bill Clinton, can win four presidential elections as Franklin D. Roosevelt did.
Negative news for Clinton's prospects comes in the latest Quinnipiac polls in the key mega-states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In each of them, she leads or ties Republican opponents, though in many cases not by statistically significant margins. But she also is running under 50 percent of the vote in every pairing, averaging 47 percent against six different Republicans in Florida, 44 percent against seven Republicans in Ohio and 46 percent against four Republicans in Pennsylvania. That's a danger zone for a candidate with universal recognition.
American presidents have greater leeway on foreign policy than on domestic issues. Just see how President Obama is forging ahead to an agreement with Iran opposed by large majorities in Congress and among voters.
Lyndon Johnson used to say that some of his colleagues were so politically inept they couldn't find their posteriors -- actually, he used a coarser word -- with both hands. Last week Barack Obama showed that, as a legislative strategist, he belongs in that category.
Another election, another surprise. Actually, two elections, in two countries last weekend, with surprisingly pleasant surprises. And in two very large countries: Turkey (population 82 million) and Mexico (119 million), both very important to the United States.
Despite everything, the often interesting analyst Jamelle Bouie writes in Slate -- "everything" includes "the email controversy, foreign donors and the Clinton Foundation" -- "Hillary is in good shape." Good enough to leave her party "still positioned for victory."
Are we seeing a reversal of the 20-year decline in violent crime in America? A new nationwide crime wave?