Supreme Court keeps Obamacare alive

I really haven’t had much time to pay attention to this today, but I thought I’d better put up a post for those of you who would like to comment on this major piece of good news (good news for the whole country, including the GOP, although they won’t admit it):

Affordable Care Act survives Supreme Court challenge

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act and in a broadly written opinion agreed with the Obama administration that government subsidies that make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans should be available to all who qualify.

By a 6-to-3 vote, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. reaffirmed the foundation of President Obama’s landmark domestic achievement and seemed to take the starch out of legal efforts to undermine the basic structure of the law. The ruling endorsed the administration’s view that subsidies should be available for all low- and moderate-income Americans wherever they live, not just in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges.

The decision was broad enough that Obama claimed in a Rose Garden speech: “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”…

9 thoughts on “Supreme Court keeps Obamacare alive

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s what SC Democrats had to say about it:

    SCDP Chairman Statement on SCOTUS Upholding ACA & Fair Housing Act

    Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison issued the following statement on the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act and 1968 Fair Housing Act.

    “We are relieved by today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, and we hope the Court’s decision puts this issue to rest.” SCDP Chair Jaime Harrison said. “Over 115,000 South Carolinians who signed up to receive health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act can rest easier. As can the other tens of millions of people across the country who have been able to gain access to care and not be denied insurance because of previous conditions.

    There is still room for great improvement, like expanding Medicaid in South Carolina to our working poor. The evidence is overwhelming that expanding Medicaid will be good for people and good for business in South Carolina. If South Carolina doesn’t expand Medicaid, our state will leave hundreds of thousands below 100% of poverty with no assistance.

    We are also pleased that the Court upheld a key piece of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Fair Housing is a legal right that applies to most types of housing and protects certain classes of individuals from discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, real estate brokerage and lending, and other housing related services Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable in America; especially when choosing where to live and raise a family.”

    # # # # #

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    And here’s what MY congressman had to say:

    Wilson Statement on King v. Burwell Ruling

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit’s decision in King v. Burwell, finding the federal tax subsidies component of the Affordable Care Act are legal.

    “The Supreme Court’s decision is a startling admission that words do not matter, and I am disappointed in the Court’s ruling.

    “Obamacare was devised based on the ‘stupidity of American voters’ according to its designer, Jonathan Gruber. Clearly, this continued executive overreach by President Obama is clearly part of a pattern designed to conceal the negative impacts of this failed healthcare law, including denial of services, increased healthcare costs, rising insurance premiums, and destroying jobs.

    “We know Obamacare is unsustainable. I am committed to repealing this broken healthcare law, building a safety net for people in need, not allowing them to depend on what has proven to be a big-government failure. We should focus on replacing Obamacare with House Budget Chairman Tom Price’s legislation that would repeal Obamacare, improve health care, and protect jobs. In addition, we must have a President that will bring meaningful change for American families,” Wilson said.


  3. bud

    Is there an emoticon for eye rolling? Seriously the hyperventilating over a rather tepid law to provide healthcare for a few additional of our fellow citizens.

    Did Wilson weigh in on the flag issue? If he did I missed it.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    You know, I didn’t really care much about King/Halbig until I looked at the actual legal arguments, and it seems clear to me that the King arguments were legally solid. However, the case was politically controversial.

    The thing is, the King arguments were based on lots and lots (and lots) of well-settled rules about how lawyers and courts read statutes. I kind of always figured that politics would play a role, but I guess that being a lawyer, I had a weird faith (perhaps naively) that courts would simply follow the law in a case like this, rather than being results-oriented.

    What is so depressing as a lawyer is that this is clear evidence that the things we do everyday simply go out the window when politics is involved. My guess is that this won’t upend the well-settled laws of statutory construction, because SCOTUS will distinguish this case away.

    I know that you non-lawyers will not really believe me, or you’ll think that I’m just biased, but this case is not what courts do. This decision is NOT normal. This decision kind of just makes me sad for the law.

    If I knew nothing about statutory interpretation rules, I could just think “Oh well, the anti-ACA argument lost the last case, of course they’ll lose again.” But I evaluated the arguments from the perspective of how Courts read statutes, so I know better.

    For instance the IRS’ use of “regardless” in the rule was a huge freakin’ red flag of the IRS ignoring the statute. They said “an Exchange serving the individual market … regardless of whether the Exchange is established and operated by a State … or by HHS”. 45 CFR 155.20(2014).

    I mean…come on! If a court won’t kill an IRS rule that says it applies “regardless” of the text of the law, you kind of start to wonder what’s the point of having courts.

    Oh well. Have a good weekend, all.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You know, there seems to be a lot of that “results-oriented” stuff going around.

      And it leaves me torn, as someone who values the rule of law. In this case, I’m very happy with the outcome. I don’t know enough to say whether I think the court followed the law or went for the best outcome, although I respect your views on the matter. Seems there’s good reason to think, though, that the intent of Congress WAS to make sure that everyone had access to this benefit — even if states tried to undermine the Congress by not setting up exchanges.

      I don’t know.

      Frankly, while I celebrate the civil rights advances of the 60s as one of the best things that have happened in this country in my life, I remain a bit queasy, on constitutional grounds, about the way we stretched the ol’ Commerce Clause.

      Back before the ’08 election, I expressed my misgivings that Obama, the law prof, believed the court should consider outcomes. I still have misgivings, even though I’m glad for the country that this particular case came out the way it did.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        That column — the last one before the election, as I recall — really infuriated a lot of my friends here. But I just went back and read it, and in retrospect, I’m quite proud of it.

        I think Judge Chamberlain Haller would have called it a “lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection” to what I knew was about to happen — Obama’s victory.

        Of course, I was, as I expected, overruled.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Roberts took the position (correctly) that the errors were in fact just that and ruled in accordance with the clear intent of the statute. Taken as a whole, in context, the lawsuit made no sense.


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