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Court Rules for Administration on Obamacare, Upholds Subsidies

By a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court Thursday announced a decision upholding the Obamacare law, ruling that those who get health insurance through federal exchanges are eligible for tax subsidies. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion for the Court, affirming the decision of the Fourth Circuit court of appeals in the case of King v. Burwell.

Roberts wrote:

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 . . . 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 case was over language in the law which stated that only those who buy their insurance in state-run exchanges would qualify for subsidies. Supporters of the law argued that this was a mistake, and that the law was clearly intended to cover those who enlisted on the federal exchange. The Justices clearly agreed.

As he did the last time Obamacare was challenged, Roberts joined liberals on the Court in upholding the law. But so this time did Anthony Kennedy, who in the previous case had voted to strike down key elements of the statute. Justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia all said the plain language of the law, which denies subsidies to those not on state exchanges, should be adhered to.

Scalia wrote the dissent. He said the law should now be called “SCOTUScare.”

Had Obamacare opponents prevailed, the results could have been devastating for the law. According to the Associated Press:

Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Obama health overhaul. That includes the 8.7 million people who are receiving an average subsidy of $272 a month to help pay their insurance premiums. Of those receiving subsidies, 6.4 million people were at risk of losing that aid because they live in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges.

As expected, Kagan, Sotomoyer, Ginsburg and Breyer all agreed that those on federal exchanges should receive subsidies.

55 thoughts on “Court Rules for Administration on Obamacare, Upholds Subsidies”

  1. He has something on Roberts, I just know it. But we lost Kennedy, so it doesn’t matter. Probably won’t matter when Obama decides the 25th Amendment doesn’t apply to him, either.

    1. Guess the WH has a “dossier” on this so-called conservative, Justice Roberts, and he is following the dictates presented! No spines, for certain. Who were the 3 dissenters?

      1. Actually a president is limited to 10 yrs in office, & only 2 elected terms…
        I guess just in case the previous tenant croaks?

  2. The “Rule of Law” has now been officially replaced by “The Rule of Politics”.

    United States Constitution

  3. Justice Scalia: “Don’t call it Obamacare; call it SCOTUSCare!”

    Chief Un-Justice Roberts should be hanging his head in shame. His decision was based on ‘intent’… not the unambiguous verbiage contained in the law. So much for ‘Gruberizing’ Obamacare!

    1. Roberts had to first decide that the text of the law was ambiguous before he could then move on to determining the intent of Congress. And in this crazy world we’re living in now, Roberts did just that. It’s insane that he declared this simple text “ambiguous”!

  4. Guess the WH has a “dossier” on this so-called conservative, Justice Roberts, and he is following the dictates presented! No spines, for certain. Who were the 3 dissenters?

  5. This Supreme Court does not know how to read basic law, but they are great at political correctness. Thomas Jefferson said “When injustice becomes the law, then rebellion becomes duty.”

    1. Thanks for mentioning (askin) that question. If they did, there should be an explanation of why they disregarded/ignored his comments.

  6. According to Thomas Jefferson, it was not an overreaching Congress that should be most feared, for taxes and elections would keep them under control. In fact, he wrote: “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, ‘boni judicis est ampliare juris-dictionem.’”
    It denotes that a good judge’s duty is to amplify the remedies of the law.
    “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government…”
    Those 32 words are the escape hatch Thomas Jefferson built into the Declaration of Independence …
    Just in case his worst fear came true …
    That American government grew too big and too destructive for the good of the people – like you and me.
    And I believe we’ve reached that point.

  7. More proof that our Constitutional Republic is broken, dysfunctional, unrepresentative of the will of the people. All three Branches are now actively, purposefully working against the people of the United States, and this has not happened by accident.

  8. I believed the first time Roberts ruled irrationally on Obamacare the Chicago thugs from the sewer that is Chicago politics had gotten to Roberts. My belief has been affirmed today.

  9. Slap! Punch! Kick! Spit!
    All those simple words come to mind.
    I feel the are doing the above and more.
    I do not think this administration cares for the Constitution, or the citizens of this Country.
    Everyone else that represent us are walking in lock step…

  10. So now we go with Congress’s “intentions.” What about their intentions to punish the states’ citizens if a state did not set up an exchange. Pretty “situational”–my new word for expedient and political.

  11. When you’ve got friends (or fools) in the judiary branch all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, you can fudge the meaning of words in the laws you write to fool people because you know that in the end, when those laws are challenged, SCOTUS will either change or ignore the meaning of the words to “discern” whatever meaning you want. When the meaning of words within laws is so fluid, you have NO law! You have tyranny! Which is what we have today.

  12. This is unconsionable. A craven political act. And obviously no shame being shown at all.
    A law that definitely needs to be changed is the Supreme Court Justices being appointed for life.
    Now we have to watch Obama strut and preen and smirk in front of America? That is just adding insult to injury.
    Watch your taxes go up America.

  13. I could almost feel sorry for John Roberts. Almost. This administration has something on him big time. Oh well. None of this surprises me. The Executive branch of the government now passes law and rules by fiat. The Judicial branch of the government is now writing law and legislating. The So-Called Legislative branch cowers in fear while collecting big salaries and kissing the ring of the Executive branch. Let’s face it. The United States of America, as formed by our Founding Fathers, is dead and gone. We lasted a good long time but it’s over. I grieve it’s passing and what lies ahead is a bit chilling.

  14. Justice Roberts’ opinion contains two (at least) glaring errors. First, “Congress” did not pass the ACA, one party in Congress did. Secondly, it wasn’t passed to “improve health insurance markets”, but to hugely increase the government’s power over Americans.

    1. I read an article in the WSJ earlier today and one of the excerpts from Robert’s opinion did discuss how the law was passed outside of normal procedures, by one party, and with parliamentary tricks that the Dems used like reconciliation, which didn’t require the normal 60 votes.

      1. Here it is – pages 19-20 of the decision:

        The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270,911, 912.) Several features of the Act’s passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through “the traditional legislative process.” Cannan, A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163(2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as “reconciliation,” which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate’s normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159–167. As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L.
        Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon “in which a senator tells his colleagues ‘I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We’ll just have to pass it to find out what it means.’”).

        Anyway, we “must do our best, bearing in mind the fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.” Utility Air Regulatory Group, 573 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15) (internal quotation marks omitted). After reading Section 36B along with other related provisions in the Act, we cannot conclude that the phrase “an Exchange established by the State under [Section 18031]” is unambiguous.

        Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the Act to determine the meaning of Section 36B…..

  15. Well, the 50 states, their governors, their attorneys general and their legislatures had no problem whatsoever in their interpretation of “state-run exchanges.” They all decided, every single state, one way or the other whether their own state wanted to create a state exchange or not. Gruber made it extremely clear that was the intent of the law. Over and over.

    But Justice Roberts revealed to us once again all how double jointed he is when judging the constitutionality of a law. He knows more than all the states and all the people of those states.

    This Supreme Court decision is not a victory for Obama. This is a disgrace.

  16. While we are discussing the Supreme Court, Gallup notes that, as of early June 2015, the American people have only a 32 percent positive confidence average in the Supreme Court (and this was before today’s ObamaCare decision!). The historical average is 44 percent.

    Put another way, 68 percent of citizens Gallup polled most recently have no or little confidence in the Supreme Court, as of early June 2015. Obama’s confidence level among citizens about where the Supreme Court’s is, currently, in the Gallup survey.

    In the same survey, Congress has a 92 percent no-confidence rating vs a historical average of 74 percent no confidence rating–big increase in the no confidence results for them. Congress is given the highest no-confidence score of any institution measured by Gallup. They are every bit as incompetent as seem to be. They aren’t fooling anyone.

    Other interesting “confidence in our institutions” results from Gallup here:

      1. I just went to one of the subsidy calculators and entered in fake info just to see the results:

        I entered NJ, family of four, (two adults, two kids), earnings of $80,000. The results said:

        You are likely eligible for financial help

        Based on the information you provided, your income is equal to 335% of the poverty level. This means you are likely eligible for financial help through the Health Insurance Marketplace. An estimate of your cost for coverage and amount of financial help in 2015 are provided below. To find out your actual amount of financial help and to get coverage, you must go to or your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

        Estimated financial help:
        $286 per month ($3,431 per year)
        as a premium tax credit. This covers 31% of the monthly costs.

        Your cost for a silver plan:
        $637 per month ($7,648 per year)
        in premiums (which equals 9.56% of your household income).

        The most you have to pay for a silver plan:
        9.56% of income for the second-lowest cost silver plan

        Without financial help, your silver plan would cost:
        $923 per month ($11,079 per year)


        UGH! We’re self-employed, don’t qualify for a subsidy (wouldn’t even want one), and are paying almost $2,000 a month for our crappy plan with a $5,000 deductible per person. So, in addition to paying through the nose, we have to subsidize the cost of other people’s plans even when they are making decent money and should be able to take care of their own families.

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