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July 02, 2012 12:58 PM The Chief Justice’s Seizures

By James Wimberley

Wingnut talk radio host Michael Savage :

It’s well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’ writings you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying.

Disgusting and silly? Sure, but there may be a seed of truth in the pile of horse dung.

The Supreme Court Justices range in age from Kagan’s sprightly middle-aged 52 to Ginsburg’s distinctly elderly 79. They all probably take some pill or other, and worry about their health. However, like members of Congress and the President they are protected from any real anxiety about unaffordable medical costs by the generous Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a pocket Obamacare regulated exchange.
Robert’s epilepsy is in a different category to high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, menopausal symptoms, erectile dysfunction, and the rest of the ills which ageing judicial (or for that matter blogger) flesh is heir to. It’s mainly genetic – the rest is a side-effect of trauma. It’s pure bad luck, and not a consequence of lifestyle. And it’s very serious.

Epilepsy often manifests itself in childhood, and so becomes a classic pre-existing condition for insurers. Epilepsy sufferers must be at high risk of being denied insurance like this young woman. The US associations of epilepsy victims and medical specialists have naturally supported ACA and welcomed the ruling.

It’s most unlikely that the experience of epilepsy swung Chief Justice Roberts’ vote by itself. But it is certainly an important contribution to his character, and gives him an insight into at least one category of serious medical need denied to his fellow justices. Tellingly, Roberts’ opinion (here, page 17) cites pre-existing conditions as one of the problems addressed by Congress in ACA. He does not mention ACA’s objective of reducing the number of uninsured Americans, as Ginsburg does (ibid, pages 5-9); for Roberts, the uninsured occur only as creators of the cost-shifting problem for medical providers and insurers.

Personal experience matters. As Harold wrote on the surprising breadth of support for the intellectually disabled and their caregivers:

It seems that everyone has a child or sibling, cousin, uncle, classmate, or friend who is personally touched by these issues.

So maybe when Roberts looked hard at Scalia’s scorched-earth assault on ACA, he saw the flames licking his own face, and recoiled.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

James Wimberley was head of the mutual assistance section of the department of education for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and secretary to the Councilís higher education and research committee. He is retired.

Comments

  • Gail on July 02, 2012 6:39 PM:

    Oh how I wish I could believe that last sentence!

  • Gary on July 05, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Where's the surprise? Conservatives always understand problems when they are personally affected. It's the absence of any sort of empathy when they are not personally affected that makes them such menaces to the social fabric of society.

  • bob h on July 06, 2012 5:57 AM:

    I think his epilepsy gave him sympathy for those with chronic conditions and perhaps an appreciation for those having to confront such illness without the help of insurance.