SCOTUS Delivers Obamacare Win
by Deacon Blues
To my surprise, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare and taxpayer subsidies for federally-established health benefit exchanges. In a 6-3 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts authoring the assent, the court said that a drafting error didn’t invalidate the intent of the Affordable Care Act. Since it takes four justices to agree on hearing a case, this means that either Chief Justice Roberts or Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy initially went along with Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in wanting to settle the matter at the highest court in the land.
Although I predicted that the five Republican justices would let their ideology drive their ruling to destroy this piece of Obamacare, Chief Justice Roberts made it clear that any language discrepancy in the law must be looked at in the larger context of what the congressional intent was.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he added. “If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
In his blustery dissent, read from the bench to serve his oversized ego, Justice Antonin Scalia said who cares what the legislative branch wanted? What matters is how the statute reads.
“The court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery,” he wrote. “It is up to Congress to design its laws with care,” he added, “and it is up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility.”
Justice Scalia announced his dissent from the bench, a sign of bitter disagreement. His summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, which sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision.
“We really should start calling this law Scotus-care,” Justice Scalia said, to laughter from the audience.
Scalia has only confirmed his existence here as a political hack masquerading as a justice. If to Scalia what matters is what the statute actually says and not legislative intent, then why did he and other conservative justices eviscerate the Voting Rights Act in the presence of a clearly written statute and well-established legislative intent? We know why – because Scalia disagreed with the politics. Nonetheless, my thanks to John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy for their ruling today, and I apologize for thinking they would go along with the pathetic political grandstanding by posers like Scalia, Alito, and Thomas.
Update: GOP rising star Marco Rubio disagrees with letting 6.4 million people keep their affordable health insurance. And this guy is considered a strong GOP candidate for 2016. Yeah, right. Good luck with that Skippy.