Sen. John Thune (R-SD) probably wishes that he’d thought twice before debuting a new attack on the Affordable Care Act on Twitter.
This month, the Supreme Court is expected to decide King v. Burwell, a case which asks the justices to read one sentence of the law out-of-context in order to render millions of people’s health insurance unaffordable. The lawsuit is funded by a conservative organization, promoted by conservative think tanks and conservative law professors, and backed by many top Republicans including several of Thune’s Republican colleagues. Though only a minority of lower court judges have sided with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, all of them are Republicans. Only Republican-appointed justices are expected to vote for the plaintiffs when the decision is handed down, though it is far from clear that all of the Court’s Republican appointees will do so. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs boasted that he does not plan to “lose any Republican-appointed judges’ votes” when his argument was being considered by a lower court.
Nevertheless, Thune offered this assessment of who would be to blame if the Republican-controlled Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs in King:
Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.
— Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) June 8, 2015
Almost immediately, Thune became an object of ridicule for this tweet. Huffington Post’s Sam Stein quoted the tweet and responded “this makes no sense.” The Week’s Ryan Cooper mocked it with an historic quote — “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!” The New York Daily News’s Josh Greenman wrote just one word: “Um.” The National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke described Thune’s tweet in twice as many words: “So dishonest.”
My own contribution to this genre quoted the tweet with the preface “In which a United States Senator reminds you that he thinks you are stupid.” Bloomberg’s David Weigel quipped that “Congress should pass a simple, one-page bill allowing @SenJohnThune to amend that tweet.”
Should the King plaintiffs prevail, it should be noted, the consequences will go far beyond the mockery Thune experienced. An estimated 9,800 Americans will die every year who otherwise would have lived if the Republican-appointed justices do what so many of Thune’s fellow Republicans have asked them to do.