Back on 3-12-15, this blogsite contained, in part, a synopsis of one of three critical cases before the US Supreme Court (USSC). The first of these, King v. Burwell (1) has now been decided. Earlier today, by a 6-3 vote, the High Court’s majority ruled against plaintiff King. As a result, this decision legalizes the distribution of healthcare subsidies to qualified individuals regardless of their state of residence. King had contended that a short, specific, six-word passage in Obamacare restricted said dispersion of funds only to states that had set up their own private, healthcare exchanges where policies could be purchased. In the simplest of terms, the USSC’s majority said that the legislative intent of Obamacare in its entirety, trumped the very limited language in the aforementioned short excerpt.
The six Justices, voting as the majority, were Souter, Ginsberg, Kagan and Sotomayor; all four left-leaning. They were joined by Justices Roberts and Kennedy; the former a usually reliable “right-leaner”, while the latter has often been a swing vote whose position is not easily predicted on any given issue. (2)
The 6 -3 outcome had a back-story fraught with irony: The GOP-controlled House made, at minimum, 50 failed attempts to repeal Obamacare, a reflection of just how badly they wanted to undo that legislation. But, by the time King v. Burwell reached the USSC, almost 8 million Americans had acquired healthcare insurance. Republicans began to sweat that if the Court ruled in King’s favor, those same “8 million” would lose their coverage, and take it out on Republicans when the 2016 election rolled around. That’s when those same people on the right began to quietly wish that Burwell would prevail!!! The irony embedded in that flip-flop shouldn’t be lost on anyone.
So, as an upshot of all this, Obamacare is here to stay, whether in its present form or eventually amended to make it better. None the less, prominent Republicans like Marco Rubio (R-FL) have stated that in light of the USSC decision, it now remains for the Congress to repeal the healthcare law. Such talk is just that and a product of the speaker’s attempt to curry favor with the right-wing of his party ahead of the GOP’s presidential primaries. Any vote to repeal would be unlikely to survive in the Senate, and most assuredly would be vetoed by President Obama.
With King v. Burwell now decided, the most anticipated USSC ruling up next is the one dealing with the constitutionality of gay marriage. In a non-politicized world, where the Justices honored the “equal protection” clause in the Constitution, a 9 – 0 supportive vote would be expected. But in the hyperpartisan environment that exists today, another 6 – 3 outcome is more likely.
Stay tuned. The wait won’t be long.
1. That blog was titled “All Eyes on the Court”. Readers who want to refresh their memories can access it by typing that title into the search window on the left-hand side of the blog.
2. The dissenters were Scalia, Thomas and Alito all of whom lean hard right.