The Affordable Care Act survived its second major Supreme Court test Thursday, with the justices ruling 6-3 to uphold the law’s nationwide tax subsidies.
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President Barack Obama reacted to the ruling, saying despite the many challenges, his signature law isn’t going anywhere.
“After more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said.
Opponents of Obamacare noted the law stipulates that people could get subsidies only when they signed up with health exchanges established at the state level – or as the law says “established by the state.”
They argued that that phrase cannot refer to exchanges established by the federal Health and Human Services Department, which oversees healthcare.gov.
But the court found the subsidies currently received by 8.7 million people are valid everywhere, including states that did not set up their own exchanges.
As he did in the first challenge to the law in 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “The Act gives each State the opportunity to establish its own exchange, but provides that the federal government will establish the exchange if the state does not.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, however, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, issued a blistering dissent.
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of,” he wrote. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
“This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits,” he continued.
“You would think the answer would be obvious — so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it,” Scalia added.
Scalia emphasized that his colleagues have now stepped in twice to save the law from worthy challenges, which is why he sees “SCOTUScare” as a more suitable nickname for the bill.
Meanwhile, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which filed an amicus brief challenging Obamacare, called the court’s decision “disappointing and troubling.”
“Unfortunately, the majority of the court failed to apply the law as written,” he said. “The Court instead rewrote the law, something it did not have the constitutional power to do.”
“It is troubling that the high court backed the Obama administration’s overreach in its ongoing effort to rewrite or suspend portions of the ACA (Affordable Care Act), in violation of the separation of powers,” he added. “The court clearly over stepped its authority.”
Carrie Severino, chief counsel to the Judicial Crisis Network and former law clerk for Justice Thomas, reiterated Sekulow’s belief that the court did not have the constitutional power to rewrite the law.
“By upholding the Obama administration’s rewriting of Obamacare, the Court today took a hacksaw to Congress’s legislative powers. The Constitution makes clear that only Congress can write the laws, not the president or the court,” Severino said. “It’s a sad day for the Constitution when the clear terms of a statute can be “interpreted” away in the service of an aggressively lawless president.”
SOURCE: CBN News
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