Conservatives far and wide are in a rage over the US Supreme Court’s (USSC) 6-3 decision that saved the Affordable Healthcare (ACA) subsidies in the King v. Burwell case. But the high dungeon in which they now reside is a product of what happens when you ignore facts, evidence and history. With that in mind, let’s re-wind the tape to see what conservatives totally missed as they invested their blind faith in King’s pleading and in their rock-hard belief that fellow conservatives sitting on the USSC would scuttle Obamacare for good.
Plaintiff King had already taken his case to two federal courts, both of which voted against him. That sent King “court-shopping” for one where he might get a more favorable ruling. As luck would have it, he found one where a 2- 1 vote sided with him. But even then, a thoughtful reading of the dissenting judge’s opinion would have alerted the open-minded to the weaknesses in King’s case.
In instances where there are differences of opinion between federal courts’ rulings on a single matter, it gets bucked up to the High Court where a definitive judgment eventually gets rendered. This is exactly what Obama-/ACA-hating conservatives had hoped for, confident that Justices like Alito, Scalaia and Thomas would be joined by Roberts and Kennedy in killing off the subsidies and the ACA with them. Yet, when legal scholars conducted their own ad hoc analysis of the merits of King’s brief, they found it lacking and said so, publicly.
If the foregoing was insufficient to alert conservatives of the need to curb their enthusiasm, there was this: Chief Justice Roberts had already supported the ACA in a previous ruling when he cast the pivotal vote that vouchsafed the law’s constitutionality. Taken en toto the odds were clearly stacked against King prevailing.
We can gather that none of this registered with conservatives. They clung tenaciously to the belief, fed by their favorite media outlets, that it was now just a matter of time before Obamacare was gone for good and the reputation of its namesake president tarnished beyond repair.
It’s hard to determine what stung the most; the 6 – 3 vote or the fact that Roberts administered the coup de grace that ended King’s quest. Unquestionably, conservatives are livid about both. Indeed, what is now percolating through right-wing media is a concerted attempt to demonize the Chief Justice as a “traitor (and) conservative in name only” etc. Nowhere can one find a call for an analysis of how conservatives managed to allow themselves to be led away from all the facts, evidence and history arrayed against them, and to so ardently believe that with King, they had their bets on a winner.
Accompanying the blowback against the USSC decision, we now have one after another GOP presidential candidate vowing to repeal the ACA. Of course, so long as Republicans lack 60, veto-overriding Senate votes, and Barack Obama remains in the White House, the chances of that happening are zero. So, we can count all this repeal talk as just so much campaign pandering to conservative primary voters who seem more than willing to be on the receiving end of yet another con.