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The Wall Street Journal Weighs In on Supreme Court Decision

On Monday, the newspaper's editorial board took the unusual step of dedicating its entire editorial to a single topic.

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GOING LONG — WAY LONG: On Monday, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board took the unusual step of dedicating its entire editorial to a single topic — the Supreme Court’s decision last week on the Obama administration’s health care law. Clocking in at 1,848 words, the piece is also a leviathan by its usual standards.

The Journal has rarely taken similar steps. The piece calls the decision “dangerous” and “corrosive,” and makes the board the latest conservative voice to criticize Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Journal declined to comment on the piece’s distinction. Asked why it chose to write so long, a spokeswoman wrote, “I’m told we’ve done it from time to time when the subject deserves it and the argument needs the space to make the case.” Editorial page editor Paul Gigot was out of town and could not comment, the spokeswoman said.

A quick review of Factiva, which Dow Jones owns, shows that only a handful of the board’s op-eds since 1980 can be considered long reads. And all of them have come during the tenure of Gigot, who became editor of the page in 2001. Among the subjects the board considered important enough to go long: a 9/11 anniversary, PBS funding, and The New York Times’ handling of classified intelligence.

Three of the longer pieces, including Monday’s, have taken issue with, as the paper refers to it, “ObamaCare.” The last time the board ran a single editorial, in March, it was also on the topic, the spokeswoman said.

Health care reform has been grist for the board since it was introduced in 2009. A review shows “ObamaCare” and-or the Affordable Care Act have appeared in the lede of a board editorial about 214 times since then. By comparison, “health care reform” or “health care law” have appeared in the lede of a Times editorial about 136 times; the Times' editorial board has only used the term “ObamaCare” once, quoting the President himself.

Besides being of obvious interest to the editors — and its business executive readership — the topic has also been rewarding for them: board member Joe Rago won a Pulitzer Prize last year for editorial writing on the subject. The Journal would not say if Gigot or Rago wrote Monday’s piece. But the two appeared on “WSJ Live” to discuss the decision last week. On the Web cast, Gigot described the decision as “stunning.”

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