By a vote of 6-3, the SCOTUS has once again saved Obamacare. I have to say, I’m a bit surprised by this ruling. Not that I should be, I just am. In the end I’ve decided it didn’t really matter, because if they had voted that subsidies weren’t legal because of technical wording in the ACA, Congress would have just written something to make them legal and we’d be right back where we are today, except we’d be able to know that those in charge of the highest court in our nation were still sound. As Justice Scalia said, “You would think the answer would be obvious — so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it.”
I am the most surprised because Justice Roberts said it was clear that Congress wanted these to be legal for the Federal Exchange policies. Prior precedent from SCOTUS rulings was that even though something may have been intended, if it wasn’t in the law then it doesn’t matter. And the threat of not having subsidies was used against the states in order to encourage them to all start their own state exchanges. So either the threat wasn’t real (dishonesty? surely not), or the intention really wasn’t for the subsidies to be legal at all for the federal exchange policies and the SCOTUS has ruled incorrectly.
The fact that SCOTUS strayed from their duty to read the law as it is and not to pass assumptions about what they think Congress wanted, that is perhaps one of the scariest things I’ve read about our government to date. SCOTUS has a responsibility to judge based on how the law is actually written, not on perceived notions, and they have truly failed in that regard.
“Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark” — Marcellus, from Hamlet 1.4
I did not relish the idea of millions have to scramble as their subsidies vanished, but I never expected that to be the final outcome anyway. Congress would fix it because the uproar would be deafening. I did expect that my Supreme Court would rule according to the law and follow their responsibility because if we can’t trust the highest court in the land to follow the rules then we have much bigger problems than subsidies. We appear to have another broken branch of our government. Again, I shouldn’t be surprised.