Justice Antonin Scalia used that term derogatorily last week to describe the Court’s second miscontruction of ObamaCare to save it, and he was right. The first time the Court ruled that the “penalty” used throughout the statute was not a penalty but a tax, well within the constitutional power of Congress to impose. Now the Court has ruled that, when Congress limited subsidies/tax credits to those participating in “exchanges established by the States,” it meant to include federal exchanges as well. This won’t fly either.
The first rule of statutory construction is that, if the words at issue are unambiguous, they are given their plain meaning and enforced. This case is really that simple, and that’s why the majority concedes that “petitioners’ arguments about the plain meaning … are strong.” The term “states” is defined in the Act as the 50 states and the District of Columbia, not the federal government. End of story.
It’s only if there is some ambiguity in the words that courts might look to legislative intent. That’s how the Court saved the statute, but even there the Court was dead wrong. The Court looked to some generalized Congressional intent to make health insurance affordable, necessitating their tortured construction. But plainly Congress’ more specific intent was to coerce states into establishing exchanges and saving the federal government the expense of coming to the rescue. State exchanges are established under one section of the ACA, federal under another, and only if the states fail to act. And of course there is the infamous observation of MIT’s Professor Gruber, the architect of ObamaCare, that coercion was the whole idea behind the provision. Technically, that concession wasn’t before the Court, but why not?
The sheer idiocy of the majority opinion is exposed when one considers that the term,”exchanges established by the States,” is used 7 times in the Act, but the Court’s miscontruction only extends to the one in question. For example, one such provision empowers states to hire contractors to set up and run their exchanges, but the Court can’t construe the provision to give the states power to hire contractors for the federal exchange, so it simply doesn’t. This is not jurisprudence. It’s politics. The Court’s job is not to save or destroy ObamaCare. It’s to apply legal principles to the case before it, and there the Court failed miserably.
SO SAYS THE SENTINEL.
National Debt: $18.287 Trillion
Annual Budget Deficit (add to ND): $495.832 Billion
Annual Interest on ND (@ only .08%!): $245.978 Billion
Unfunded Entitlements (SS/MC/MC/OC): $96.957 Trillion
Debt per Taxpayer: $972,777
WE ARE BANKRUPT AND, BUT FOR OUR PRINTING PRESSES, INSOLVENT.