DEVELOPING: The Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision ruled that the ObamaCare subsidies offered by the federal government to people living in states without an exchange are constitutional.
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent, adding the majority’s reading of the text “is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of,” Scalia added. “Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?”
Indeed, even the majority opinion acknowledged that the argument to read the letter of the law, or “arguments about the plain meaning . . . are strong.” However, they held that the government interpretation was reasonable.
“When analyzing an agency’s interpretation of a statute, we often apply the two-step framework announced in Chevron, 467 U. S. 837,” the Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Under that framework, we ask whether the statute is ambiguous and, if so, whether the agency’s interpretation is reasonable.”
Despite Roberts chastising the law’s language and how it was written, he and the majority ultimately decided to go another way. As with the case concerned over the constitutionality of the individual mandate, Justice Roberts and the court chose to rewrite the law and thus the interpretation, in its entirety.
“In this instance, 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,” Justice Roberts wrote. “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.”
The decision — viewable below — is no doubt a blow to the opponents of the president’s signature health care law. But its political troubles are far from over.
“With health insurance premiums skyrocketing as a result of ObamaCare mandates, today’s decision is nothing less than a crushing blow to average Americans,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “The Supreme Court has validated a wealth distribution scheme that will continue to drive up the price of coverage, pushing it toward unaffordability for working Americans. So long as ObamaCare’s mandates and relentless regulations are left in place, there is no good outcome. The American people believe both subsidies and mandates are wrong, so it’s now up to Congress to use reconciliation to repeal ObamaCare, and Congress should continue to do so until there is a president who is willing to sign that repeal.”
Meanwhile, Justice Scalia ended his dissent with “I dissent” and not “I respectfully dissent.”