Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

Some 3.1 million young adults have health insurance as a result of the health care reform law, according to new figures released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

That's up from 2.5 million in December 2011, a similar report found then.

"Today, because of the health care law, more than 3 million more young adults have health insurance," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "This policy doesn't just give young adults and their families peace of mind, it also gives them freedom. It means that as they begin their careers, they will be free to make choices based on what they want to do, not on where they can get health insurance."

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President Obama's executive decision to grant immunity to a select group of undocumented immigrants is provoking hostility from Republicans, much to the delight of Democrats. The president is already enjoying gains among Hispanics in polling, and his campaign has reason to hope the fallout will clarify to this key voting bloc which candidate is on their side ahead of the election.

For Mitt Romney, the chasm between Hispanics and his anti-immigration conservative base is already proving to be unbridgeable -- and it's only growing.

In floor speeches and media appearances Monday, House Republicans channeled the misgivings of conservatives, excoriating Obama's policy decision as an "imperial" move that shows a lack of respect for the rule of law. At least one member of Congress has already threatened to sue to block it.

Although the prime directive from GOP leaders has been to focus on the process and timing of Obama's administrative shift, it has been difficult for some rank-and-file members to refrain from going after the substance. For instance, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) argued that some minors brought to the U.S. by their parents knowingly broke the law and should be held accountable.

"Well, you are also talking about people that came over at 16 years of age," Farenthold told CNN. "At that point you had a say in it and that looks more like amnesty."

Here's a highlight reel of Republican push-back against the new policy.


Romney has so far dodged the substance of Obama's decision, which opens the door to two-year work authorization for illegal immigrants under 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children and meet certain criteria, such as having attained higher education or serving in the military. He has refused to say if he'd reverse the decision as president, which he's already facing pressure from the right to pledge to do.

Romney's former opponent and now-surrogate Rick Santorum said Sunday that his party's nominee is "trying to walk the line" on the issue so as to avoid appearing "hostile" to Latinos.

Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has recently championed the cause of granting legal status to DREAM Act-eligible immigrants, has felt compelled to hedge on Obama's shift.

Meanwhile, Obama is already enjoying a boon among Latino voters, who comprise the nation's fast-growing demographic and have been disillusioned by the lack of immigration relief that has occurred during his presidency. His decision has fueled a 35 percent net gain in Hispanic enthusiasm behind his candidacy, according to a Latino Decisions survey.

For Romney, losing Latino voters -- or mobilizing unenthusiastic Hispanics to pull the lever against him -- could potentially be fatal in swing states. It's a delicate balance for the Republican nominee, whose record of moderate positions as governor of Massachusetts means he cannot take the enthusiasm of his right-wing base for granted.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded Monday to Mitt Romney's argument that Congress, not President Obama, should provide relief to DREAM-eligible immigrants.

"I was stunned listening to the Republican nominee for president say, why doesn't Congress do this? We have tried. We can't get Republican votes," Reid said on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans filibustered the DREAM Act late in 2010, preventing it from coming to a vote.

"The DREAM Act is not amnesty. It rewards responsibility and opportunity," Reid added. "Unfortunately, Republican opposition stalled this legislation. ... I congratulate [President Obama] for this courageous decision."

Watch Reid's floor speech below, via his office.

To observers of the 'Obamacare' oral arguments, it would come as no surprise that Justice Antonin Scalia is a likely vote to strike it down. But there has remained one major wrinkle in his prior jurisprudence that continues to give hope to a handful of the health care law's proponents that he'll vote to uphold it.

Now, within days of the historic ruling, Scalia is releasing a new book in which he finds fault with a Roosevelt-era Supreme Court decision that forms a critical part of the legal undergirding for the health care reform law. For Scalia, that's a dramatic turnaround, because he has previously embraced the premise of that decision in an opinion he authored in 2005 that supporters of the Affordable Care Act have frequently cited.

In Scalia's new book, a 500-page disquisition on statutory construction being published this week, he says the landmark 1942 ruling Wickard v. Filburn -- which has served as the lynchpin of the federal government's broad authority to regulate interstate economic activities under the Constitution's Commerce Clause -- was wrongly decided.

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UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, who is briefly quoted in TPM's article about Justice Antonin Scalia's reversal on the Constitution ahead of the 'Obamacare' ruling, explains in further detail why he believes the flip-flop is revealing.

Specifically, Winkler argues, the only thing that has changed since Scalia's 2005 embrace of the New Deal-era ruling that underlies the basis for the constitutionality of the individual mandate is the "political implications."

He writes in an email to TPM:

This is typical Scalia. He respects precedents when they fit his conservative ideology and disregards them when they don't. He claims that history should guide judges. But nothing about the history of the commerce clause has changed. What's changed is the political implications of the commerce clause. When its being invoked for law and order conservatives, he favors Wickard. When invoked by liberals to support healthcare reform, he thinks Wickard is bad law. Once again, we see that Scalia's originalism is a charade.

After spending President Obama's first term emboldening the most ideologically intense elements of the conservative movement, elected Republicans are now finding themselves in a box on critical issues like health care and taxes with limited options to avert national crises.

On health care, Republicans are coming to grips with the prospect of owning a mess of a system if the Supreme Court overturns 'Obamacare' this month.

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The Associated Press reports:

ATHENS, Greece — The pro-bailout New Democracy party came in first Sunday in Greece's national election, and its leader has proposed forming a pro-euro coalition government.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras says "the Greek people today voted for Greece to remain on its European path and in the eurozone."

President Obama's move Friday to grant immunity and temporary legal status to some young undocumented immigrants is putting his rival Mitt Romney in an irreconcilable predicament between Latinos and his immigration-weary conservative base.

Appearing Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation," Romney three separate times declined to say whether he'd reverse Obama's decision if elected president.

"What I would do, is I'd make sure that by coming into office, I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally," Romney said. "My anticipation is I'd come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure." He refrained from getting specific.

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Rick Santorum said Sunday that his candidate Mitt Romney is trying to strike a delicate balance on immigration in order to avoid alienating Hispanics.

"No, he's trying to walk the line. And look, I understand that," Santorum said on CNN's "State of the Union." "He's trying to walk the line so as not to sound like he's hostile to Latinos -- and swing [voters] in very important states."

Staking out policy positions on the basis of raw political calculus is common for candidates. But the willingness of Santorum -- a Romney surrogate, albeit a reluctant one -- to openly concede that is noteworthy as campaigns rarely, if ever, publicly admit that they temper their issue stances on the basis of political considerations.

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Appearing Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation," Mitt Romney stuck by his primary-era vow to reject a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases to tame the deficit.

His exchange with Bob Scheiffer:

SCHIEFFER: You were one of the vast majority of Republicans to signed the pledge circulated by the leading anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, no new taxes under any circumstances. And I remember once back during one of the primaries, you were asked if you would agree to $1 in taxes if you could get $10 cut in spending cuts, and you said at that time, no, I wouldn’t even accept that. Do you still feel that way?

ROMNEY: Well, we all felt that way. And the reason is that government, at all levels today, consumes about 37% of our economy.

SCHIEFFER: But do you still feel ...

ROMNEY: Let me go on and explain. The answer is I do feel that way. Government is big and getting larger, and there are those who think the answer is just to take a little more from the American people, just give us a little more. and there are places that have gone that way– California, for instance, keeps raising taxes more and more and more. and funny thing, the more they raise in taxes, deficits get larger and larger. The only solution to taming an out-of-control spending government is to cut spending and my policies reduce the rate of spending. ... That's the way that we're going to balance our budget: getting people back to work with rising incomes again.

Watch the video, via ThinkProgress