Chief Justice Roberts has said he likes mystery novels; once, as a lower-court judge, he invoked Sherlock Holmes’s “dog that didn’t bark.” But at the King v. Burwell arguments, Roberts himself was in effect the dog that didn’t bark, saying far less than expected and thus leaving reporters to puzzle over the mystery of how he might vote.

But the one question he did ask about statutory interpretation does merit particular notice, as the Washington Post’s Robert Barnes notes. It pertains to “Chevron deference” — the doctrine under which the Court generally should defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguously worded statute.

Details

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has given Republicans new ammunition in the fight over ObamaCare by endorsing the idea that Congress is certain to act if the court deals a blow to the law.

The conservative justice contended Wednesday that lawmakers would move quickly if the court, in the case of King v. Burwell, were to strike down subsidies that are helping millions of people purchase insurance through the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov.

Details

The Supreme Court justices had a lively discussion yesterday during arguments in King v. Burwell about who Congress intended to get health insurance subsidies and under what conditions.

The central question is whether the Internal Revenue Service had the authority to write a rule authorizing subsidies to go to millions of people in the 37 states now operating under federal exchanges.

The plaintiffs say the language of the law is clear: Subsidies are allowed in “an Exchange established by the State under [section] 1311of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” It doesn’t just say this once, but nine times in various linguistic forms.

The government argues that it is just a typo in legislative drafting: Congress clearly wanted subsidies to be available to citizens of all of the states, and the IRS therefore had the authority to write its rule authorizing subsidies in both federal and state exchanges.

Details

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case with significant implications for the future of Obamacare. Most of the justices’ questions proceeded along expected lines. Most notable was a series of questions by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who questioned whether it would be constitutional for Obamacare to induce states to set up exchanges. If Kennedy’s fears are right—that federal subsidies for state-based exchanges are “coercive”—then he might side with the Obama administration in the case. But if you understand how Obamacare’s insurance markets work, it’s clear that Kennedy should side with Obama’s challengers.

Details

Justice Anthony Kennedy said state insurance exchanges could collapse without federal subsidies to offset the costs of insurance

Supreme Court heard an hour of oral arguments in an Obamacare challenge, will cast votes Friday, and release a decision this summer

Conservatives say law was written to deny subsidies to people in states that decided not to set up their own insurance marketplaces

The White House insists Congress meant to treat everyone equally

As many as 8 million people could lose their insurance without the subsidies, which lower the cost of insurance
GOP wants to replace subsidies with temporary financial assistance, and then new state-based systems they say would be more competitive

White House is ‘quite pleased’ with its solicitor general’s arguments

Details

Liberals would rather pretend that conservative arguments don’t exist—at least it feels that way, sometimes. But on the eve of King v. Burwell, that is exactly what’s happening. Recognizing the significance that constitutional federalism could come to bear in interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s provisions for health insurance exchanges, some of the Administration’s defenders have begun to argue that their opponents have not even attempted to make a federalism argument in support of their challenge.

Details

By Heather R. Higgins and Hadley Heath Manning
The Supreme Court is set to hear another case, King v. Burwell, with important implications for Obamacare. The question is whether the IRS overstepped its authority in treating the federal exchanges like state exchanges and causing subsidies to flow — and the companion penalties and mandates to apply — to consumers, governments, and organizations in federal-exchange states, despite the clear text of the law.

In advance of the March 4th hearing, the Administration and allied organizations are painting a picture of calamity – they say six, then seven, now eight million people will lose their subsidies and thus risk losing their insurance coverage if the plaintiffs win.

The clear hope is to frighten the Justices away from reading the plain language of the law, undoing the IRS administrative fiat, and restoring the law as explicitly written and intended.

Details

Congress is busily making plans for legislative action should the latest challenge to Obamacare prevail in the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments in King v. Burwell to decide whether the IRS had the authority to write a rule authorizing subsidies to go to millions of people in the 37 states with federal exchanges.

The plaintiffs say the language of the law is clear: Subsidies are allowed in “an Exchange established by the State under [section] 1311of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” It doesn’t just say this once, but nine times in various linguistic forms.

That is the point that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber made when he famously said: “If you’re a state, and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Details

The day of reckoning for President Obama’s lawless rollout of Obamacare finally will arrive this week when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in King v. Burwell. Americans who are interested in the rule of law should hope that when the SCOTUS hands down its decision–most likely on the very last day of the term this June–it will rule to enforce the law that was actually written, not the law the IRS wishes had been written. But those like me who are interested in good health policy are looking forward to an important side-benefit of such a principled decision. It finally may give us a crude market test for a poorly conceived and badly marketed product that so far has survived only because it has a federally enforced monopoly behind it.

Details

The Obama Administration’s abuse of executive power—dispensing with its duty to faithfully execute statutes to become a law maker unto itself—has become the most consequential dispute across the three branches of government. The Supreme Court rejoins this debate on Wednesday with oral arguments in the challenge to the White House’s illegal Affordable Care Act subsidies.

Details