Friday, June 26, 2015

SCOTUS Saves Obamacare and the Fair Housing Act

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two stunning defeats for Republicans and the far right yesterday by (i) upholding the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, in a 6-3 decision, and (ii) the Fair Housing Act.   No doubt the plotting and scheming to attack the health care coverage of millions of Americans and protections against housing discrimination will persist among Republicans who preach a reverse Robin Hood agenda and show an utter contempt for the Gospel message notwithstanding their hypocrisy filled claims to revere "Christian values."  An editorial in the New York Times looks at the Court's ruling on Obamacare.  Here are excerpts:
On Thursday morning, for the second time in three years, a majority of the Supreme Court rightly rejected a blatantly political effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. The case challenging the law, King v. Burwell, was always an ideological farce dressed in a specious legal argument, and the court should never have taken review of it to begin with.

Its core claim — that an ambiguous four-word phrase buried deep in the 900-page law eliminates health insurance for millions of lower-income Americans — was preposterous.

Writing for a six-member majority, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. agreed that this clear, overriding purpose was the guiding principle. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”

In all the years leading up to the law’s passage, no one questioned that purpose. Not a single person involved in passing or interpreting the law — including members of Congress, health-care journalists, and Supreme Court justices themselves — ever expressed a belief that subsidies would not be available on federally-operated exchanges. But the current challenge, brought to you by some of the same tireless conservative and libertarian activists who tried and failed to kill the health reform law in 2012, fabricated an alternate history out of thin air.

It was a grandly orchestrated charade sold to people who were already furious about the law and just needed a legal rationale, however far-fetched, to try to gut it.

And it worked on the three justices whose disdain for the law has always been clear: Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas. In a dissent laced with outrage and mockery, Justice Scalia called the court’s decision “quite absurd,” and quipped, “We should start calling this law Scotus-care.” 

But as Chief Justice Roberts explained in detail, the health reform law depends on tax-credit subsidies to make health care affordable for more than six million Americans. Eliminating subsidies “could well push a state’s individual insurance market into a death spiral,” he wrote, since fewer people would enroll and premiums for everyone would shoot up — the very result Congress designed the reform law to avoid.

Thursday’s decision was a powerful defense of the law, stronger than observers might have expected from this court. . . . . the court focused on the broader structure of the law itself, preserving the proper reading of it regardless of the politics of the next administration.

This is one of the things government was built to do: provide all Americans with access to quality, affordable and often-lifesaving health care. And this is what those who are determined to gut the law have been trying to dismantle. It is to the Supreme Court’s credit that in this case, the majority of justices managed to stay above the politics of this issue and do their job — which is to interpret the law Congress wrote in its entirety, not to rewrite it.

No comments: