Thursday, March 5, 2015

News from the Supreme Court

I have not followed the Obamacare arguments in front of the Supreme Court in the most excruciating detail, but others have and the results are not at all surprising.  As predicted, all four liberal justices strongly supported keeping the subsidies.  Equally predictably, Scalia and Alito favored withdrawing them.  And finally, as every Supreme Court watcher would predict, Clarence Thomas didn't say a word.  He never does.  But no one doubts which way he will go.

But then again, everyone has known all along that Kennedy and Roberts are the ones to watch. Kennedy showed himself concerned about the federalism argument -- that the attempt to coerce states into building exchanges by withholding subsidies if they do not is unconstitutional.  He worried about how states would be affected.  And, as I have said, if he does rule that way, he can give Republicans a symbolic victory to mask their substantive defeat.  The Supreme Court vindicated their interpretation of this clause and found part of Obamacare unconstitutional!  And no one lost their insurance as a result!  (Of course, they would still want to destroy the monstrosity).

As for Roberts, he is playing very close to the vest and not letting anyone know what he intends.

Every report has warned that you can't always predict what the Supreme Court will do based on oral argument.  So maybe Kennedy will rule against the subsidies after all.  And Roberts is anyone's guess.

I must say, I hope the Supreme Court upholds the subsidies.  And I hope that the prospect of millions being stripped of their health insurance scares some sense into Republicans and convinces them that destroying the system that millions now use to get their health insurance might not be altogether popular.

The former is hopeful.  But I am not so naive as to believe the latter has a chance.

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