The Corner

Kathleen Sebelius’s Aura of Indelibility

Following Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary and former governor of Kansas, is like tracking an ideological Sasquatch. Plucked from a political dead-end by Obama, her habitat now is bound by a Beltway, but there she’s busily cementing in place the pieces of Obamacare over which she has control, as this item from CQ — sent to me a while ago by a kind reader — reports:

The health care law may be in legal jeopardy, but the Obama administration’s ability to issue grants under the overhaul remains unfettered. Case in point: On Tuesday [May 1, I believe], Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $728 million in funding for community health centers…

The health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) provides $11 billion for community health centers, which . . . is made up of $1.5 billion for construction projects at existing facilities and $9.5 billion to build new clinics and expand services at community health centers over five years. With Tuesday’s announcement, all of the $1.5 billion has been allocated, said Martin A. Kramer, communications director at the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration

Asked the status of the grants announced Tuesday, HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said in a telephone press briefing that “these are in fact awards. These funds are actually in the pipeline and are going out to the facilities.” White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz said when asked how the grants would be affected by a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the entire health law: “We aren’t going to speculate on what the Supreme Court will do.”

Sebelius’s greatest political skill is not her ability to articulate ideas in a convincing way. For example, she would have a hard time getting elected again to anything in Kansas, now that the effects of her governorship are becoming more obvious to voters who have been left to deal with her suffocating energy and education policies. As with the Obamacare grants, her talent is making permanent the disfiguring marks of her political passage.

Case in point: The Kansas Supreme Court, where, after a double-dose of Sebelius, a handful of activist Democrats and liberal Republicans continue to dispense a marsupial form of justice for which Kansans must pay and pay. Their longtime target, former state attorney general Phill Kline, an outspoken conservative, is in their crosshairs at last. #more#Driven by the personal and creepily obsessive animosity of a Sebelius appointee, Carol Beier, the court is trying to strip Kline of his ability to practice law anywhere and forever. Kline is fighting back, as this report from the local Fox affiliate explains:

Kline’s attorney Tom Condit of Cincinnati said his filing demands justice Carol Beier be removed from hearing Kline’s ethics appeal-citing among other things-a 2008 opinion she authored. Condit says the opinion relied on falsehoods about Kline’s handling of abortion records-and was critical of Kline based on those falsehoods.

Beier’s opinion mentioned above actually was a ruling in Kline’s favor. But the language used was so vitriolic that the court’s senior members, including the chief justice, harshly criticized Beier for the unprofessional and juvenile rant she composed. (I wrote about this here for NRO; a quick search of NRO under “Phill Kline” will give you far more than you need to know about the weirdness surrounding Kansas’s top court, the vendetta against Kline, and the nutty process dominated by the state’s lawyers and used to place legal activists, like Beier, on the bench without hearings or any other confirmation process.) Kline is now teaching law in Virginia and has no apparent wish to return to Kansas politics.

But the state’s supreme court doesn’t share that wish, that’s for sure. The court’s politicization is just another scar left in Sebelius’ wake. The Topeka bench is militantly activist; its decisions are being used with increasing frequency to perpetuate a set of liberal policies that would never pass muster with voters or lawmakers — as this Manhattan Institute report on the court’s effort to shape the nation’s anti-trust policy demonstrates. As formulated by Beier and her colleagues, the rule, the report says, “would effectively hold illegal common business practices recognized as proper for decades, and would be a pure wealth transfer from society to lawyers, and from out-of-state businesses and consumers to Kansas.”

In other words, “Sebelius was here.”

Denis BoylesDennis Boyles is a writer, editor, former university lecturer, and the author/editor of several books of poetry, travel, history, criticism, and practical advice, including Superior, Nebraska (2008), Design Poetics (1975), ...


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