I Am Not A Lawyer. NY Times Edition.

September 12th, 2014

A common abbreviation you see in the comment threads of legal blogs is IANAL, or “I am not a lawyer.” Usually, when I see that abbreviation, I stop reading. It suggests that the person has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, and even conceding he has no formal legal training, proceeds to offer a legal opinion.

I was thus shocked to see this line in the New York Times, in an Op-Ed on Halbig:

We are economists, not lawyers. But…

It doesn’t really matter what comes next. Three economists, who admit they have no legal training, were given a lengthy Op-Ed on Page A27 of the New York Times to explain to us principles of statutory interpretation. Mind you one of the economists, Peter Orszag, was Obama’s Director of OMB during the passage of the ACA!

What is most fascinating about this Op-Ed, is that it serves as an effort to persuade the Justices *not* to grant certiorari in King v. Burwell while the Halbig case is pending rehearing en banc.

If the full District of Columbia Circuit takes up the case, it should reject this sophistry. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court should wait to see what the lower courts do before deciding whether to intervene.

I don’t have any comments on their economic analysis of the case, but they should have confined their writing to their area of expertise. I–and no one else–should give a flip what they think about the Court’s certiorari process, let alone views of statutory interpretation.

This editorial comes on the heels of a editorial urging the D.C. Circuit to grant rehearing en banc.

Folks, we now have briefs of amicus curiae supporting and opposing certiorari in the form of New York Times editorials. By non-lawyers.