Darren Richardson

June 28, 2012

At least one major news site and one of the Internet’s most popular sites for news links got the Supreme Court’s health care decision wrong Thursday morning, at least for a few minutes.

Moments after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 5-4 decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act, CNN’s website trumpeted a headline to the effect of “Mandate struck down.” Within minutes, the site had posted a correction and informed readers that the Supreme Court had, in fact, upheld the signature accomplishment of the Obama administration.

Internet pioneer Matt Drudge also made a mistake for a short time on his widely read Drudge Report Thursday morning, indicating in big red numbers that the vote had been 6-3 when in fact it was 5-4.

Part of the confusion may have stemmed from another widely read Internet site, scotusblog.com. Writer Amy Howe made a typo at 10:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, writing, “The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate.” That was corrected four minutes later by a writer named Tom: “Apologies - you can't refuse to pay the tax; typo. The only effect of not complying with the mandate is that you pay the tax.”

Within a half an hour of the decision, however, most of the media confusion had been straightened out as it began to sink in that despite intense efforts by the Tea Party, conservative Republicans and even some Democrats who were unhappy with what has frequently been described as “Obamacare,” President Obama’s health care overhaul will stand as the law of the land.

How this will play out in the 2012 presidential campaign remains unclear. Although the ruling will likely give Obama a short-term boost in the polls, most Americans were in favor of repealing the act before the court ruled. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will no doubt decry the ruling, but his criticisms now have been effectively triangulated and neutralized by his record, the legislation passed under Obama and the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The big political winner may be former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee who will appear in at least 49 of the 50 state ballots. Prior to the decision, Johnson said that as president he would, if possible, issue an executive order to repeal the law.

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U.S. Supreme Court slip opinion on the Affordable Care Act

Ontheissues.org, Gary Johnson

Other sources linked to within text.