FORT DODGE, IOWA — At a town hall meeting yesterday with his constituents, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) made an unexpected revelation — he attended the Affordable Care Act oral arguments in the Supreme Court as the personal guest of Chief Justice Roberts. In King’s words, his seat was “not the cheap seats, but the chief’s seat.” Watch it:
Although there are a limited number of seats reserved for personal guests of the justices in the Supreme Courtroom, there are fewer total seats in the room than there are members of Congress, and the reserved seats were difficult even for Members of Congress to come by. So it is a bit curious that Roberts would give one of his seats to King of all people.
Even in an era of conservative radicalism, King is an unusually radical conservative. He does not simply believe that that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, and he has not simply led a single-minded crusade to repeal or defund it, he’s suggested that any national effort to regulate the insurance industry would violate our Constitution. He also denies that the Constitution protects access to contraception, and has expressed strange views on contraception generally — at one point suggesting that President Obama’s plan to ensure all women have access to birth control will make America a “dying civilization.” He’s claimed that unemployment benefits will transform America into a “nation of slackers,” he called for congressional hearings after President Obama’s estranged uncle was arrested for a DUI, and he’s openly admitted that he believes congressional hearings should be used to “publicly humiliate” President Obama.
Then again, after last week’s Affordable Care Act hearing, it wasn’t entirely clear that the five conservative justices understand that the purpose of a Supreme Court hearing isn’t simply to “publicly humiliate” Obama — so King and Roberts might actually have more in common than it seems.