Having infuriated Democrats with her astonishing loss of Ted Kennedy’s long-held Senate seat to a suburban truck-drivin’ pin-up populist, Martha Coakley is back. But this time she’s racking up a series of impressive legal victories for liberals. She has won a $102 million dollar settlement against Morgan Stanley, taken on insurance companies for paying hospitals based on political clout rather than quality, and successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Athough unchallenged by the GOP in her November race for Attorney General, Coakley is campaigning vigorously. Could she be positioning herself to recapture the MA Senate seat from Scott Brown for the Dems? Is this the real Martha Coakley? Or both?
The most publicized of Coakley’s recent successes is the ruling by a Boston judge that DOMA (which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages) is unconstitutional. We will undoubtedly hear more about this success as the ruling is appealed in higher and more conservative courts. But even if this ruling is eventually overturned, it is another step in the long effort to assist mainstream America to understand and empathize with the institutionalized antipathy encouraged by law against gay and lesbian couples. Every drop of precedent, every opportunity for empathy helps to erode unfounded hatred.
Fewer outside of Massachusetts are aware of Coakley’s successful negotiations with the Wall Street giant, Morgan Stanley. After bringing a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley for loaning money to New Century, which in turn issued shady loans to unqualified borrowers, she negotiated a $102 milliion settlement on behalf of the people of Massachusetts, setting a precedent (ala tobacco lawsuits) for other states.
Perhaps most unpublicized of all now that health care has moved off of the front burner and no longer makes the front pages, is the illuminating report she issued regarding unfair reimbursement practices by insurance companies to hospitals. Coakley’s report, which is now facing the expected withering criticism of the insurance lobby, draws attention to the fact that hospital chains with greater name recognition and greater market share are reimbursed as much as 60% more for the same work and same quality than smaller hospitals.
We should all keep an eye on Martha Coakley. There is obviously more to her than our first glance revealed.