That little remark is found on the SCOTUS blog… and heralds a landmark case that further cements legality and constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short. The U.S. Supreme Court came down on the side of the government, allowing the subsidies to stand, defeating the latest efforts to gut the ACA.
The decision was 6 to 3, with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissenting.
The majority opinion was delivered by Justice Roberts, and here is the closing paragraph:
In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined — “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison , 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. 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.
The dissenting opinion by Justice Scalia, who was not at all polite in his dissent, stating bluntly in the first sentence of the dissent:
“The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”
Funny enough, Justice Scalia wrote 21 pages of explanation himself.
Later in the dissent, he goes on to discuss:
“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.’ But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”
And then there is this:
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
In case one is not sure of how Justice Scalia feels about all this, here is the last paragraph of his 21-page explanation of the dissenters:
Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
There will no doubt be plenty of commentary about this is days to come.
Here again is the link to the PDF of the decision.
We will discuss some of it on this week’s Finally Friday! show.
And finally… the lastest thing…
President Obama Delivers a Statement on Today’s Affordable Care Act Ruling.
The following video was captured from the Live feed.