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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Obamacare subsidies survive

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Jun 25, 2015.

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  2. GingerCoffee
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    Roberts restores my faith in the SCOTUS. And Scalia's pure political partisanship evil grows.

    I can understand a mix of opinions over was it a tax or not. But honestly, trying to trash a law based on some technical flaw in wording? I'm curious to know how many technical flaws in the wording of other legislation has Scalia sided with the flaw?

    Robert's majority opinion is a no brainer, obviously Congress didn't write the law with the intention of only subsidizing state run exchanges.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Roberts is a good justice. Meaning that he recognizes the proper role of the court, and I think he bases his decisions on his jurisprudence not on his politics.

    I'm hopeful that the gay marriage decision will also be 6-3, but there I think Roberts is a bit more likely to come out against it, not due to personal feelings on the issue but because of his philosophy of jurisprudence and the role of the court.

    I haven't read the opinion yet. I'm not 100% convinced, looking at the legislative history, that the wording was inadvertent. They may well have wanted to force the hand of the States or just assumed no state would opt out. The law was badly written, unfortunately. But even if we make that assumption, I think the broader intent of Congress is clear, and I also think the role of the Court in giving deference to administrative interpretation is proper. Finally, the court is also supposed to interpret laws in a way that gives effect to the law rather than overturning it if they can reasonably do so, as they clearly could here.
     
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    If Congress had intended to only subsidize states that set up exchanges, don't you think that would have been more clearly stated?

    I'm not buying it. The constant chanting of Obama care is evil, repeal and replace, no, these sloganeers who wish to destroy anything Obama pounced on a technicality like Trump sending investigators to HI to look for a smoking gun. Why isn't Trump calling Cruz ineligible for POTUS? Or anyone else calling Cruz in his foreign birth for that matter?

    It's hard to take these objectionists seriously. I don't know that much about Alito, but I don't believe for a minute Scalia and Thomas aren't purely partisan. Scalia most likely believes he's not, but to call the ruling, blatant legislating from the bench, his minority opinion was way over the top.

    From Scalia's dissent
    If that said, "states", I could see this ruling. But "the state" is also defined as 'the government' and the federal government can also be referred to as 'the state'.

    For example, the Head of State refers to
    There are many such examples of the word, state, referring to the federal government.

    It's all rationalizing one's partisan position, in my opinion. I know you give Scalia the benefit of more doubt than I do.

    Where else in the ACA does it make it clear the intent was to only subsidize half the citizens of the country?

    Whereas Robert's opinion makes more sense.
    In other words, it's still a state exchange, it is the state using the federal exchange, not a state with no exchange. You'll find everything else in the ACA and in the implementation of the ACA acting on this interpretation of the legislation. Did you see any evidence of the legislators saying , wait a minute, the subsidies weren't supposed to go to states that used the federal exchanges? You saw no right wing objections to the subsidies within federal exchanges until someone found the technical flaw.

    I don't believe Scalia is that stupid. I can believe he doesn't recognize his partisan bias.
     
  5. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    Another sad case of the Supreme Court making law rather than interpreting it. Scalia, in his dissent, sneeringly referred to the ACA as 'SCOTUSCare'. Quite right, sir. Roberts' legacy as being willing to rule in favor of the highest bidder is confirmed.
     
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    Did you even read the ruling?

    There are six members of SCOTUS that disagree with Scalia. Did you read at least the gist of Robert's reasoning or are you just going by the slogans?

    Highest bidder? What exactly was bid and by whom? As far as I know Thomas is the only one who may have blatantly accepted money for his POV (in the Citizens United case.)
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I think it is quite possible if you look at the legislative history and read through some of the amicus briefs. But this isn't a place for legal academic debate, and the only legal discussions you see in popular media are sensationalized for popular consumption. I know a lot of attorneys, some in health care law and some not, who support Obamacare and are glad for the decision and still look at the legislative history and process and figure that Congress really just didn't think States would opt out.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is nonsense. But people have a very hard time separating jurisprudence from politics, and so everyone assumes any justice ruling in a way they don't like does it for partisan or dishonest reasons. I don't agree. I think that's relatively rare, actually.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    That scenario makes little sense given the federal exchange option was established with the ACA, not like an afterthought.

    I think the legislators were well aware there could be resistance at the state level, even open rebellion, which is what happened. I can't imagine they thought all those governors who were ready to sue over the law were going to just comply, sans foot dragging by any means such as simply not setting up an exchange.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Again, if this were a legal discussion I'd point you to legislative history and various briefs in the case. But let's be realistic - most people's determination of what the intent was is based solely on how they wanted the case to come out.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    This would tend to support Scalia consistently being a pedantic interpreter of legislative language, except... where this review of Scalia's book points out.
    Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts By Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner
    At this point one might say Scalia stuck to his principles**
    And this is interesting here and given Scalia's rational that money is speech:


    ** Except I still think there are two ways to read "state" in that section of the ACA: 1) state as in governing body, not states, which should have been plural; 2) state exchange whether the state uses its own or the federal version it is still the state's.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who would the highest bidder in this scenario be? The working poor who otherwise can't afford basic health care for their children?
     
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  13. Stacy C
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    Glad I got my snark in before the sanctimony started. The highest bidder would probably be whomever stood to gain from the decision and had the wherewithal to make Roberts' future more 'comfortable'. My prediction is that Roberts will retire before the end of President Obama's term, unless it looks like Hillary is a lock in the election (shudder).
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Lol. Gotta love conspiracy theorists. Did you know that if you leave a tooth in a glass of coca-cola it will dissolve overnight?
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Funny thing about all this is that Roberts' view in this case is perfectly consistent with his jurisprudence, and with the jurisprudence he stated back in his confirmation hearings. As I said above, it is the same jurisprudence that is likely to put him on the other side of the gay marriage decision, which is too bad because I'd rather see a 6-3 decision there (I think the Court has 5 votes in favor, with Kennedy). No need to look for conspiracies.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    If anyone wants to read arguments for the opposing side, Indiana had a pretty interesting amicus brief:

    http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/BriefsV4/14-114_amicus_pet_%20Indiana.authcheckdam.pdf

    I think everyone who has legal training knows this case wasn't as clear cut as either side likes to pretend, and there were plenty of arguments to be found on both sides. At the same time, the Supreme Court fulfilled its proper role in trying to give a law effect and deferring to Executive interpretation in the face of ambiguity in the law.

    The only way you can come out on Scalia's side is to take an overly-narrow focus. Scalia is a textualist, which means the plain text of the statute is the beginning and end of the question unless the text is ambiguous, in which case you look at other factors. If you focus only on the one sentence in the statute, and take a textualist approach, then it is pretty easy to see that the outcome you get will be that the subsidy falls. But even for a textualist, I don't think that makes sense. From a textualist perspective, the whole game rests initially on a determination of whether the statute is clear or ambiguous, and I don't think you can determine that properly without considering the statute as a whole.
     
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    Those who stood to gain from the decision would be, once again, the working poor. And for that matter, anyone who isn't a multi-millionaire and who is not immune from illness or from losing their employment. It will be more difficult for one major illness to drain every penny saved in a lifetime of labor, more difficult for one minor illness to knock those climbing out of poverty back down into the depths of it. Snark aside, I struggle to see how anyone can see that as a bad thing.
     
  18. Stacy C
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    Well, President Obama gains, legacy-wise, so there's one possibility.

    The Supreme Court doesn't (sorry, isn't supposed to) rule on whether a law is a 'bad thing' or not. Their brief (no pun intended) is to judge the constitutionality of a law. This one clearly isn't, all the bleating about the children notwithstanding.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think the health insurance industry wanted the subsidies upheld as well. At least, the insurers I work with do. A lot of them didn't like Obamacare at the outset, but at this point they've spent tons of money on compliance. They weren't looking forward to chaos in the industry, which would have happened if the subsidies were killed for federal exchanges.

    But I don't believe Roberts or anyone else on the court ruled because they're getting something from the insurance industry for it.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    They weren't ruling on the Constitutionality of the law. They were ruling on an issue of statutory interpretation. Not every case before the Supreme Court is an issue of whether something is Constitutional. There was not issue in this case of whether the ACA is Constitutional.

    What makes you think it is unconstitutional?
     
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    While I agree textualism is indeed the principle Scalia supported his position on, his hissy fit dissension and the points in the book review I cited above suggest he's not as free from partisan bias as he believes he is.
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't read the book, but I wouldn't put much stock in a review. All of the justices are human, so none of them are as free from bias as they suggest. But if there are two subject matters on which popular reporting, mainstream books, and so on are largely untrustworthy, it's on the reporting of science and law. Maybe even worse on law than science. The best way to get a sense of the justices is to read their own writings, which in large part is going to consist of a lot of legal opinions that are never high-profile enough to make the news.

    I think Scalia and Ginsberg both made the point in an interview together that the justices agree with each other a lot more often than commonly perceived. It's just the high-profile, news-making ones tend to be the ones where there is an ideological split. There's a saying that "hard cases make bad law," and I'd suggest a corollary to that is "reporting on hard cases gives a bad (and false) impression of law."
     
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    The ACA is good for the hospital industry, as it leaves them with less uncollectible debt they have to cost shift onto paying customers.

    And given the 'repeal and replace' crowd has yet to articulate even vaguely what they would replace the ACA with, many liberals are saying the crowd breathed a sigh of relief that their bluff wasn't called, and they can continue using the 'repeal and replace' slogan for fundraising and votes from the base.
     
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    I have learned a lot from your POV about the bases of these decisions, but you are often looking with a bit of tunnel vision at the purity of these judicial philosophies. I agree, claiming blatant partisanship is grossly oversimplified if not plain ignorance. But putting it down to consistent judicial philosophy and brushing off the partisan bias as if it were some vague background influence is as well.

    It was a book review, not a legal review. The review cited specific examples of Scalia's inconsistency. It had nothing to do with interpreting a legal matter.

    Since you didn't address my comments and citation, perhaps you like to actually read post #11.
     
  25. Stacy C
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    Whereas, debating legal stuff with a lawyer is a fool's errand, I'll bow out, after suggesting that any case which pits the federal government against the states is, by its nature, a constitutional issue, even if it doesn't meet the technical definition. My (lay) understanding is that this case turned on the meaning of the phrase 'established by the state' when describing the circumstances under which the ADA could provide subsidies, which would have meant only citizens in states which had created their own exchanges would have qualified. Seems right to this (proud) 'textualist'.
     
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