Republicans alter Supreme Court audio in health-care attack ad

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Republicans alter Supreme Court audio in health-care attack ad
Sat, 03-31-2012 - 4:00pm
Republicans alter Supreme Court audio in health-care attack ad

The ad marks a blurring of the line between the law and politics, in which the nation's highest court, and the justices and lawyers who decide and argue cases, are becoming fodder for political arguments.

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Greg Stohr

Bloomberg News

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2017869804_campaignad30.html

Election 2012

WASHINGTON — A Republican Party Internet ad uses altered audio from Supreme Court oral arguments to attack President Obama's health-care law.

In the Web ad, the Republican National Committee (RNC) excerpts the opening seconds of Tuesday's presentation of Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., in which he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water.

"Obamacare," the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. "It's a tough sell."

A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period, and completed his thought, rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the edited version.

The ad marks a blurring of the line between the law and politics, in which the nation's highest court, and the justices and lawyers who decide and argue cases, are becoming fodder for Republicans' and Democrats' arguments over the validity of the president's signature domestic legislative achievement.

RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said the video was a "mashup" condensing and splicing together several separate pauses and stutters by Verrilli during the first two minutes of his argument, illustrating how much difficulty he had defending the health-care law.

"Are there multiple clips in that video? Yes," Spicer said. "The point was that he continually had to stop because he was having trouble making the case for why Obamacare was valid."

While unflattering editing isn't unusual for a political-campaign advertisement, it is atypical in the legal world.

"Unbelievable," said Walter Dellinger, who served as solicitor general under President Clinton. "It's a dramatic instance of the politicization that has surrounded this challenge and totally unfair to one of the most widely admired lawyers in public service."

 nwtreehugger