ObamaCare: SCOTUS Overrules Rule of Law
Politics trumps all once again as John Roberts' Court saves ObamaCare.
We’ve noted the background on the subsidy issue numerous times, but the summary is this: The language of the law restricted subsidies to people purchasing health insurance on state exchanges. When 34 states declined to serve as vassals of the federal government, Barack Obama decided to issue subsidies on the federal exchange as well. Some 27 states challenged that “interpretation” of the law.
Unfortunately, six black-robed despots agreed that lawlessness should stand.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, saying, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
To do so, the Court decided that the law meant for the federal and state exchanges to be “equivalent” (even though it says no such thing) and, therefore, subsidies for both are intended by the law.
In fact, however, Democrats fully intended to limit the subsidies precisely in order to coerce states into setting up exchanges. ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber admitted as much in one of his infamous “speak-o’s.”
So this is yet another case in which SCOTUS made a decision based on what it deemed was “best for society” rather than rendering a ruling based on the law. Six million poor souls might have been kicked off the insurance rolls without a pleasing alternative to keep the taxpayer money flowing, you see, so the justices had to act. So they interpreted the law’s language to mean something it doesn’t mean and was never intended to mean. That kind of lawlessness is what got our country into its current mess in the first place.
And to think — then-Sen. Barack Obama voted against confirming John Roberts to the Court in 2005. Where would ObamaCare be without Roberts?
As National Review’s Quin Hillyer sums up, “With today’s Obamacare decision, John Roberts confirms that he has completely jettisoned all pretense of textualism. He is a results-oriented judge, period, ruling on big cases based on what he thinks the policy result should be or what the political stakes are for the court itself. He is a disgrace. That is all.”
We could almost — almost — understand Roberts’ reasoning in the 2012 decision upholding the constitutional justification for ObamaCare itself, though his own rewrite of the law in order to do so was an appalling miscarriage of justice.
In that ruling, Roberts wrote, “Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
But in this statutory case, the law’s language — and its intent — was clear. All Roberts and his five fellow travelers did today was “make policy judgments” and “protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
With his usual flare, Justice Antonin Scalia eviscerated this bad ruling, writing, “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.’”
He added, “Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an ‘Exchange established by the State.’ This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
In the end, however, this outcome is good politically for Republicans — and, conversely, bad for Hillary Clinton. It takes subsidies off the table as a campaign issue, and it means Congress isn’t on the hook to “fix” the law. But a change is not off the table if we can elect a Republican president. The law can be altered after 2016. Recall if you will that in the 2014 midterm election, part of the GOP success was based on the fact that House and Senate candidates campaigned against ObamaCare, using that election cycle as a referendum on it. They will do the same thing in 2016. Then again, the likelihood of any real change also seems to diminish with each victory Obama wins.
Obama crowed after the ruling, Obamacare is “here to stay.” But Obama also claimed you could keep your doctor, you could keep your health care plan, and your health care premiums were going to go down. How did that work out?