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.
2 thoughts on “Supreme Court says the subsidies are legal”
I do not see the logic in your conclusion above that “…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.”
By your either/or summation, you are not allowing for a possibility that the ACA’s promoters simultaneously intended for the subsidies to be legal for the Federal Exchange policies and did not know whether or not the SCOTUS would rule that the subsidies were legal?
If you do acknowledge that possibility, then your logical conclusion should be that an empty threat could not have existed.
I can’t figure out if I worded my intentions incorrectly or not. Not enough coffee today I guess. 🙂 If the threat wasn’t real, then subsidies would be secretly intended legal for all states regardless (even though it wasn’t written that way) because a valid threat means those states really don’t get subsidies (illegal without state exchange). The threat of “no subsidies for you” wouldn’t really exist if they intended everyone to get them. The flip side is the threat WAS real, and they really didn’t plan on everyone getting subsidies so this ruling is wrong. Whether or not they thought SCOTUS would rule they were legal is irrelevant, at the time of the law’s writing they likely didn’t expect SCOTUS to even need to rule. Personally I think SCOTUS ruled incorrectly based on their own prior precedent. I can’t find the particular ruling, but they had once said that it didn’t matter what they intended, it only matters how it was written. The law is pretty clearly written. Their ruling is astounding to me.