By Tom Quiner

I am honestly shocked.

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) said Congress was wrong. When Congress said Federal subsidies should only apply to state run Obamacare exchanges, SCOTUS today said, “no, that’s not what you really meant, you meant for it to apply to federal exchanges as well.”

Obamacare architect, Jonathan Gruber, said the Affordable Care Act was designed to only subsidize state exchanges in order to create an incentive for states to build their own exchanges instead of relying on the federal government to do it.

Today, in a 6 to 3 decision on the King v. Burwell case, the Court upheld federal subsidies for those insured on federal exchanges despite the fact that the law said just the opposite. Chief Justice, John Roberts, again led the charge in support Obamacare in his majority opinion:

“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. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt. The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is affirmed.”

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a scathing dissent:

“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.”

It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

Justice Scalia was just warming up:

“Worst of all for the repute of today’s decision, the Court’s reasoning is largely self-defeating. The Court predicts that making tax credits unavailable in States that do not set up their own Exchanges would cause disastrous economic consequences there. If that is so, however, wouldn’t one expect States to react by setting up their own Exchanges? And wouldn’t that outcome satisfy two of the Act’s goals rather than just one: enabling the Act’s reforms to work and promoting state involvement in the Act’s implementation?

The Court protests that the very existence of a federal fallback shows that Congress expected that some States might fail to set up their own Exchanges. Worst of all for the repute of today’s decision, the Court’s reasoning is largely self-defeating. The Court predicts that making tax credits unavailable in States that do not set up their own Exchanges would cause disastrous economic consequences there. If that is so, however, wouldn’t one expect States to react by setting up their own Exchanges? And wouldn’t that outcome satisfy two of the Act’s goals rather than just one: enabling the Act’s reforms to work and promoting state involvement in the Act’s implementation? The Court protests that the very existence of a federal fallback shows that Congress expected that some States might fail to set up their own Exchanges.”

Scalia’s reasoning is impeccable. But reason doesn’t seem to rule this court very consistently.

So, what is the political fallout?

Republicans are winners.

Obamacare has received a stay of execution. Premiums are poised to skyrocket next year. All of the health insurance co-ops authorized by Obamacare are bleeding cash but one (in New York). Here in Iowa, the Obamacare co-op has already gone belly up, shuttered their doors, and sold their clients sold off.

Premiums are project to rise by 50% or more on Obamacare exchanges next year.

The Democratic candidate is going to have to try to defend the carnage when Republicans go on the offensive. They own Obamacare lock, stock, and barrel.

‘Hope and change’ has morphed into ‘broke and lame.’

Today’s decision is lousy legal reasoning but a political win for Republicans.

11 Comments

  1. Mike Street Station on June 25, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I’m not sure why you’re shocked. The Court has been evolving into a approval stamp of the status quo and conventional wisdom for a while. The fact that they totally ignored the written text of the law only made it even more obvious.

    • quinersdiner on June 25, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      You’re probably right, Mike. I guess I’m too literal. When the law says “black” and the Court says, no it really says “white,” I guess I just haven’t “evolved” enough to understand the Orwellian redefinition of language.

      • Mike Street Station on June 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm

        We live in an age in which a White girl can be a Black girl, and a 65 year old man can be a middle aged woman. Objective reality is just an old relic of the Enlightenment.

  2. encourage the faithful on June 25, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    The Obama administration has effectively scuttled the rule of law. For too long, law-abiding citizens have closed their eyes to controversies, choosing not to stick our necks out (let the right-wing zealots carry the load for us). We are reaping what we have sown, Tom. There is no excuse as Jesus told us that He will spit those of us who are lukewarm out of His mouth. Where are the real men, Tom, those who are supposed to provide for and protect their families? Don’t get me started. Too many of them are too busy pleasing their carnal appetites.

    For too long, we have allowed immorality to rule. I am ashamed that I waited too long and did not take care of the responsibilities in my own part of the public square. I cowed when I was faced with the least bit of resistance, even from my own family. I didn’t know what we would eventually face, but I knew there would come a time of accountability.

    Tom, I am no longer surprised at the outcomes in today’s debauched society. I am surprised, however, that the SCOTUS decision shocked you. We have to get a handle on our political system. I really am at a loss as to how we will right the ship. My saving grace, literally, is that God is watching and when things reach a crescendo (as if they haven’t already, sheesh!) He will step in. We, each of us, must do better.

    • quinersdiner on June 25, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      You reacted very similarly to the previous commenter. Thanks for weighing in. I do believe a serious course correction is coming for the reason you stated: God IS watching. He will step in when the pain of the status quo (the debauched culture) exceeds the pain of constructive change (not phony ‘hope and change’).

  3. Pat Crawford on June 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you, Tom, for publishing Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion. It is outstanding.

  4. The Gospel of Barney on June 25, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    I’m not, the Dems own the Supreme Court most Federal District courts and legislate from the bench what could not pass congress!

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