March 28, 2018

DAN MCLAUGHLIN: The Supreme Court Proves It Didn’t Mean What It Said in King v. Burwell.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare provided subsidies to buyers of health insurance on the federally operated exchanges, not just exchanges established and operated by a state. Many legal observers at the time, myself included, argued that the decision in King v. Burwell was a politically driven outcome that disregarded longstanding rules for how the Court reads statutes, and that the Court in the future would have to either accept a dramatic sea change in those rules or admit (at least implicitly) that King v. Burwell was a political, not a legal, decision. Well, what do you know? The Court’s decision last month in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers makes it crystal clear that the Court does not take King v. Burwell seriously as a legal precedent, and would have decided that case differently if it had not been so politically charged.

To recap, the Court in King v. Burwell upheld a rule passed by Obama’s IRS that extended subsidies to buyers on the federal exchanges. To reach that conclusion, however, the Court had to leapfrog the language of the statute, which made its meaning obvious in four ways.

Read the whole thing.

I’d just add that for all the charges against Trump for incivility, it was Obama who all-but-threatened a political war with the Supreme Court to force decisions he wanted on his namesake health insurance law.

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