So it's easy to point to last week's US Supreme Court decision rejecting his health care lawsuit as an example of Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna's crappy legal skills. But it turns out that he still would've been shown up as a crappy lawyer even had McKenna won.
Throughout the public debate over his role in the lawsuit McKenna repeatedly insisted that the more popular provisions the Affordable Care Act would survive his challenge of the individual mandate. For example, according to an official FAQ on the AG's website:
Attorney General McKenna continues to believe that individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion provisions may be deemed unconstitutional without overturning the entire health care reform act.
And in a March 24, 2010, interview on TVW, McKenna claimed that he actually liked many of the ACA's provisions, bluntly telling NPR's Austin Jenkins:
You can't overturn a 2,400-page law with a trillion dollars in spending and 80 new federal agencies with one lawsuit, nor do we attempt to... The governor and the legislative leaders are making it sound like this lawsuit challenges the provision in the bill regarding preexisting conditions for health insurance; it does not. That it challenges the provisions that 26-year-olds can stay on their parents' health insurance; it does not. It does not address these many, many provisions that they keep citing... The provisions we've been talking about regarding 26-year-olds and preexisting conditions, they are all going to take effect this year. They are not the subject of the lawsuit; they're not affected by it at all.
But that was not the opinion of the four dissenting justices. In the dissent Justice Antonin Scalia decisively concludes:
[T]he unconstitutionality of both the Individual Mandate and the Medicaid Expansion requires the invalidation of the Affordable Care Act's other provisions.
So had Justice Roberts sided with the four other conservatives, the entire ACA would have been tossed, including the provisions regarding 26-year-olds and preexisting conditions that McKenna promised are "not affected by it at all." In other words, had McKenna won on the mandate, he would have been proven disastrously wrong on the legal impact of the suit as a whole.
Crappy, crappy lawyer.