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Rick Moran

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July 22, 2014 - 7:55 am

This case was going to the Supreme Court anyway, but for the notoriously liberal  U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rule the subsidies invalid may sound the deathknell of an important part of Obamacare.

Jonathan Adler:

This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its much awaited opinion in Halbig v. Burwell.  In a 2-1 opinion, the Court held that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid.  Judge Griffith, writing for the court, concluded, “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State.”  In other words, the court reaffirmed the principle that the law is what Congress enacts — the text of the statute itself — and not the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or a bill’s proponents.  Judge Randolph joined Judge Griffith’s opinion and wrote a concurrence.  Judge Edwards dissented.  The opinions are available here.

Background on the case can be found here.

Developing…

UPDATE

CNBC lays out some of the consequences of the ruling:

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. “We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”

Indeed, the decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

More: 

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Your conception of Congress is wrong, Brian, it's not there to rubber-stamp laws Obama wants. It's there to consider the wisdom of the laws that are proposed. Obamacare is unwise, and should be repealed in it's entirety.

That's why Obama won't ask Congress for any changes.

And the court is not "removing insurance for 4 million people", it's merely saying they have to PAY for it.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Because the sentence isn't broken. This wasn't a typo or a loophole or a clerical mistake or an unforeseen blunder...it was written that way specifically to encourage state to form exchanges. Not only is the law clear that states and only states get subsidies, it reflects the will of the Congress. That was Congress's intent. The Administration is using the same only-applies-to-states logic to exempt US territories.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sad thing is, much like Hobby Lobby, this is a really clear case resting on very, very simple logic, but the result will get demagogued. The law says only state-established exchanges get subsidies. It was specifically written this way to encourage states to establish exchanges. There isn't really any controversy or opacity here. Likewise, with Hobby Lobby, a non-statute defined agency regulation (the contraception mandate) is trumped by an existing statute (the religious freedom act). That's it...there's nothing too complex there...it wasn't even an issue of constitutionalism. Yet I know a lot of young liberal yuppy lawyers who do not and can not and will not understand this.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
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The Law is what Congress enacts? The TEXT of the Law itself, the Statute. Not the unexpressed intentions or hopes ...

Do the members of the Court review ONLY that clause on which they render judgement? Without the context of the entire Law?

That Law, enacted by Congress under the whip "We HAVE to pass it TO KNOW WHAT'S IN IT"?

MORE than 2000 pages of legal verbiage?

Do we suppose those legislators who enacted it into Statute read, knew, understood the Text BEFORE legislation into Stature? OR That they Know even now "WHATS IN IT"?

"Honourable" members of Congress who do not appear to have read - OR understood the document - the Legal Document - to which they, many of them "ethical legal professionals", swore/affirmed on freely taken oath to UPHOLD AND Defend?

THAT legal document AKA The Supreme Law of the Land, comprising with the Bill of Rights with ALL Amendments to date in American quarto a mere 19 pages. In PLAIN English.

There's a mighty lot of mischief, i.e unlawful restrictions of protected citizens rights in a Statute of more than 2000 pages.

More than 2000 pages of legal verbiage, With "the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or the bill's proponents" contained in those more than 2000 pages.

IF that Statute is reviewed with the discretion of the Courts clause by clause, section by section, it must take an eternity to decide its legality on FUNDAMENTAL legal sancions of the USA.

A decision invalidating ... by 2 judges of three?

IF the Law is what Congress enacts HOW is it that one of three (1 of 3) judges differed from the others in the decision about the validity of this clause/section?

It appears INTERPRETATION: "intentions and hopes of the legislators and the Bill's proponents" by those authorised to judge IS inherent in Law and judges judgements..
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps Madame Pelosi should have READ the bill before she PASSED the bill.

Hoist, meet petard.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Madame? How appropriate!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
My US Senator is saying that one effect of this ruling is that the individual mandate is struck down in 36 states. While I'm sure there are cases of Americans who really want insurance, who work hard at good paying jobs, but have some expensive rare condition and can't get reasonably priced insurance, how many of those people are there really? Most everyone I know was insured or comfortable without insurance before Obamacare/PPACA. We colonized America and had pioneers go from coast to coast without insurance and often without doctors and did fine. Without insurance we managed to build the most prosperous country the world has seen. We all die, get over it.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, this is a good punch to the gut of Obamacare but, dang it, the bout is not yet decided. If only there were a few brave Democrats willing to join with willing Republicans to start a real discussion of what healthcare should be in the USA. Maybe healthcare reform (i.e. available, accessible, and affordable) could become a reality. The worst thing about Obamacare is the time that it has been wasted without really solving our healthcare challenges. The next worst thing is the obscene cost that provides little.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
...just as soon as we get an amendment passed that EMPOWERS the federal government to dabble in healthcare...
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
In a lawless government, the Court is an irrelevance.

It either politically hacks the system in support of the totalitarian power grab or it is ignored.

This ruling only told us what the interpretation clearly would be in a society based upon laws.

We are no longer that society.

It doesn't matter one whit.

The treasonous cabal running this country won't abide by any ruling that doesn't strap on the kneepads and service it.

Their conspiratorial media will slash and burn the truth about it. IT. DOESN'T. MATTER.

What makes anyone think that a "ruling" or a lawsuit or an impeachment proceeding or a bill from Congress will make one whit of difference?

They do as they please and you can't do a damn thing about it.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
There was different verbiage in the House version of the bill, but because Scott Brown had been elected, and thus broke the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, they knew they could never pass the House version, not without bringing the Repubs into the room to work on the bill.

So, they passed the Senate version in the House. Well, actually, they never did. They "deemed' it to have passed. Didn't even vote on it. Total BS move.

That's how we got this monstrosity. Shut the Repubs out of the room entirely, then don't even legitimately pass the bill. Now, they are crying. Waahhh.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
It will be interesting to watch the Supreme Court Justices contort language, logic, and the law, in order to legislate this provision out of existence.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 4th Circuit just ruled the other way. It's headed to SCOTUS quickly now.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe not! If the DC circuit agrees to an en banc hearing and overturns, there will no longer be a conflict between two circuit courts...the Supreme Court may then decline to hear an appeal as there is consistency on the appeal level.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a near certainty, imo, that an en banc hearing will overturn the 2-1 ruling. Not if, when.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sad thing is, much like Hobby Lobby, this is a really clear case resting on very, very simple logic, but the result will get demagogued. The law says only state-established exchanges get subsidies. It was specifically written this way to encourage states to establish exchanges. There isn't really any controversy or opacity here. Likewise, with Hobby Lobby, a non-statute defined agency regulation (the contraception mandate) is trumped by an existing statute (the religious freedom act). That's it...there's nothing too complex there...it wasn't even an issue of constitutionalism. Yet I know a lot of young liberal yuppy lawyers who do not and can not and will not understand this.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
>> Yet I know a lot of young liberal yuppy lawyers who do not and can not and will not understand this.

They understand just fine, they just wish it not to be so, and will keep trying to finagle the laws until they get their way.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The en banc court ruling could be crucial. Justice Kagan may be forced to abstain from voting, as she had a role in the formation of obamacare. Therefore if there is a 4-4 vote, then the ruling from the en bac court stands.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment

Forced? By whom? I believe recusal of the Supremes is voluntary. With the contempt the left holds and now eagerly displays and invokes for America's institutions of democracy and fair governance, don't bet the rent money on that.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
En banc means the full D.C. Circuit instead of this three-judge panel. Only after that happens or is foreclosed would it go to SCOTUS, which is where Kagan sits.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Won't be a 4-4 without Kagan. She is one of the Lib votes.

I don't see the en banc ruling as changing the decision. The 2-1 decision was reluctantly ruled by the Liberal Court. They know there is just no getting around the verbiage as written. It's so clear, the en banc may not take up the case, just allow it to go to the Supremes.

Die, Obamacare! Die!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
But this is the en banc court that Obama just packed with his cronies...a move only possible because Harry Reid change the filibuster rules. So don't expect anything positive from the full court.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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