On the other hand: Fourth Circuit upholds ObamaCare subsidies for federal exchange consumers

posted at 2:01 pm on July 22, 2014 by Allahpundit

Well, this is awkward.

Unlike the D.C. Circuit, which split 2-1, the majority here was 3-0. Even so, the most noteworthy thing about the opinion is how tormented the court seems in trying to determine what Congress intended when it said that subsidies should be available only on “an exchange established by the State.” From page 20:

k1

Page 24:

k2

Page 28:

k3

If they can’t decide what the key phrase was designed to do, why don’t they follow the D.C. Circuit’s lead and stick with the plain text? In the first excerpt above, the court frankly admits that the language of the law seems to support the plaintiffs’ argument more strongly than it does the government’s. But that’s not good enough, they go on to say; in a case like this, where they’re analyzing a rule promulgated by a federal agency (the, er, IRS) and the meaning of the underlying statute is unclear, it’s supposed to defer to the agency’s interpretation of the law if that interpretation serves the larger purposes of the statute. Which, says the court, it does. The purpose of ObamaCare is to encourage people to buy health insurance, whether through incentives like subsidies or penalties for noncompliance like the mandate. The IRS decided that it’d be silly to read “an exchange established by the State” as excluding the federal exchange, since that would remove a huge financial incentive to buy insurance for many millions of Healthcare.gov users. Plus, the only way to make O-Care work economically is to have lots of people, especially healthy people, jumping into the risk pool. Denying subsidies to federal exchange consumers would defeat that purpose. Held: The subsidies are still valid.

That means we have a circuit split — for now. Whenever two federal appellate courts rule differently on the same issue, it’s almost a cinch that the Supreme Court will end up taking the case to resolve the ambiguity. It would be weird, after all, for a key federal law to be drastically different depending upon which state you’re in, and doubly weird in this case since the Fourth Circuit covers Maryland and Virginia, the two states that surround Washington. Geographically, D.C. is now a “no subsidies” island in the middle of a “subsidies” sea. That’s odd, and that’s why the Supreme will probably take the case. It’s also why the White House insists on an en banc rehearing on Halbig in the D.C. Circuit. If the full court overrules today’s decision, it would eliminate the circuit split and reduce a bit of pressure on the Supremes to take this case. But then, it takes just four votes of the Court to grant cert and agree to hear a case from a circuit court, which means that even if all five justices who votes to uphold the mandate two years ago would rather pass on this one, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy could force them to take it up by voting for cert. Will they do it? (Spoiler: Yes.)

Update: I didn’t see it until after I scheduled this post, but DrewM made the same points about the circuit split and granting cert here.


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Comment pages: 1 2

It wasn’t rape-rape.

rogerb on July 22, 2014 at 2:03 PM

One step forward, 2 steps back. Happens to us every time, doesnt it?

Jack_Burton on July 22, 2014 at 2:04 PM

If the courts seemed confused about what is meant, how do they expect the American people to follow it?

ConservativePartyNow on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

you mean to tell me they built that awesome Healthcare.gov site for nothing? other than the $8 billion price tag I mean.

DanMan on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies.

that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Because when you say healthcare, the first thing that comes to mind is the IRS.

red villain on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

And people actually did get to keep their plan if they liked their plan since it was just a typo.

rogerb on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

the law was written to try to get repub buy in by offering subsidies to get those states run by repubs to create their exchanges. The governors of 36 states wisely did not bite because they knew the costs they would be absorbing. Words have meanings and they worded it to bribe governors.

DanMan on July 22, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Just like Prop 8 our “betters” will not let us live free. The game is rigged. They’re fitting us for chains and most don’t even know it.

njrob on July 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

in a case like this, where they’re analyzing a rule promulgated by a federal agency (the, er, IRS) and the meaning of the underlying statute is unclear, it’s supposed to defer to the agency’s interpretation of the law if that interpretation serves the larger purposes of the statute.

So if the next administration applies a different meaning to the statute, that’s okay?

In other words the law means whatever it means today and it can just as well mean something else tomorrow.

What kind of nonsense is that?

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

So what does this mean? Who wins? Which court is more powerful? What’s its impact on Obamacare? What’s the deal?

anotherJoe on July 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Libfree hated the courts earlier, I suspect he’ll be sending flowers and chocolates to them now.

Bishop on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Now I know how Hillary feels when the Energizer Bunny comes in the back door.

faraway on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

What kind of nonsense is that?

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Banana Republic.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Saying that language is ambiguous is absurd.

Michael Cannon from Cato is speaking now about the two decisions here.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Here’s what the Fourth Circuit really said:

“We rule that if the legislative branch passes vague and ambiguous bills, the Executive branch is free to interpret in any way it sees fit, even if there are conflicting interpretations within the same administration. In addition, we conclude that bills as simple as “…The Secretary shall decide whatever….” are Constitutional because we can’t figure it out.”

BobMbx on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Then why did HHS state that it doesn’t apply to US territories? The dems, who wrote this garbage, meant to exclude certain areas from receivng the subsidies. They were trying to “force” the states to establish exchanges and held out the carrot of subsidies. This was completely intentional and was written that way. Courts are not here to re-write laws (well maybe in liberal land).

Ta111 on July 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Roberts, the traitor, will get a second chance.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The leftest courts will torture the plain language of the text to the extent that planet earth will subject to the subsidies.

vnvet on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The obvious intent of this section of the law was to coerce states to set up their own exchanges. End.of.story.

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The penalty, like the subsidies, applies to people who live in a state with “an exchange established by the State.” Per the D.C. Circuit, that phrase no longer includes the federal exchange. Then again, pretty much everyone is now exempt from the individual mandate if they really, really want to be, right?

DO NOT comply!!!

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

“an exchange established by the State.”

Allah, you should stop truncating the quote like that. The actual quote is:

…which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311.

That is a big deal, because section 1311 authorizes the states to set up an exchange and section 1321 authorizes the federal government to set up an exchange. So, the relevant portions of the statute not only refers to “the State” but also refers to a section that only authorizes a State to set up an exchange. The federal exchange cannot be set up under section 1311, because it is set up under 1321.

tommylotto on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

So what does this mean? Who wins? Which court is more powerful? What’s its impact on Obamacare? What’s the deal?

anotherJoe on July 22, 2014 at 2:10 PM

This pretty much guarantees a review by the Supreme Court. Unless Obama can get the En Banc DC Circuit to reverse the DC ruling faster than the plantiffs can get the 4th Circuit ruling appealed to the Supreme Court.

As long as the two circuits are in conflict SCOUTS must hear this.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM

No wonder Josh Ernest looked like the cat who ate the canary at this morning’s presser when he said the WH wasn’t upset by the DC decision. They knew the 4th Circuit was going to rule in their favor.

But what I want to know is HTF can 2 court decisions miraculously appear within minutes of one another just in time to pull Barry”s bacon out of the fire.

wyntre on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM

It means that the intent of the Founders to create a government where the best and brightest would serve only reluctantly for a term or two and then leave to make room for someone else just took its 10 millionth hit.

The stupid are enslaving the rest of us and 52% of the nation are standing dutifully in line to get fitted for their suit of chains.

Bishop on July 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Elections have consequences…

sandee on July 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

So then, laws don’t mean what they say….? Dear Leader has been telling us that for six years.

d1carter on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

So basically, rather than reading the statute as it was written, the 4th Circuit jurists accepted and recognized the political dynamics as being superior to the written word….and then built a case to support their pre-conceived politically expedient and biased decision.

So much for justice being blind and unbiased.

What’s worse, is that the jurists in the 4th Circuit also just rubber stamped every single one of President Obama’s unilateral changes to the legislation – like the delays of the Employer Mandate…because the words in the statute aren’t as important as the intent to better enable fascism.

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The obvious intent was for the states to set up their exchanges to improve the CBO scoring of the bill.

sentinelrules on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies.

that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Saying something twice doesn’t make it any less stupid.

bigmacdaddy on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Eve if the DC Circuit does do en banc (unlikely), the Supreme Court can still hear the King case.

It doesn’t have to wait for the DC Circuit.

sentinelrules on July 22, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Congress made subsidies available only through state exchanges as a means of coercing states into setting up exchanges.

In Senate Finance Committee deliberations on the ACA, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the bill’s primary authors, suggested the possibility of conditioning tax credits on state compliance because only by doing so could the federal government induce state cooperation with the ACA. Then the law’s insurance requirements could be imposed on states without running afoul of constitutional law precedents that prevent the federal government from commandeering state governments. The pertinent language originated in the committee and was clarified in the Senate.

Many of the PPACA’s drafters and supporters in Congress, for example, clearly endorsed the idea of withholding health-insurance subsidies if states refused to meet Congress’ demands, such as by failing to establish Exchanges. This group includes:

1. Senators Durbin, Begich, Bingaman, Burris, Casey, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Kohl, Lieberman, Lincoln, Pryor, Shaheen, and Specter. Each of these “aye” votes on the PPACA also sponsored S. 979, the Small Business Health Options Program Act of 2009, which offered tax credits to small businesses only “in a State which . . . maintains a State-wide purchasing pool that provides purchasers in the small group market a choice of health benefit plans, with comparative information provided concerning such plans and the premiums charged for such plans made available through the Internet” (i.e., an Exchange).

2. Senators Dodd, Bingaman (again), Brown, Casey (again), Hagan, Harkin, Merkley, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, Sanders, and Whitehouse. Each of these “aye” votes on the PPACA also voted for the S.1679, the Affordable Health Choices Act (reported by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee), which withheld health-insurance subsidies from a state’s residents for four years if the state failed to establish an Exchange, and permanently if the state failed to implement the bill’s employer mandate.

3. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), who (1) wrote the PPACA language restricting subsidies to state-established Exchanges and preserved it through multiple drafts, (2) introduced a Health Coverage Tax Credit in 2002 that uses similar eligibility rules and that the Congressional Research Service says “can be claimed for only 10 types of qualified health insurance…7 of which require state action to become effective”; and (3) also in 2009 floated proposals that (like S. 979) would have conditioned health-insurance tax credits on states enacting certain laws.

That’s 24 of the 60 senators who approved the PPACA. There is no evidence they changed their minds before casting their votes.

The record also shows some members initially opposed the PPACA because of this feature. In an aforementioned letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Obama, 11 Texas Democrats warned the PPACA allowed states to block their residents from receiving “any benefit” by refusing to establish an Exchange. Though they opposed this provision, when the PPACA became the only bill that could become law, all 11 of them grudgingly voted for it.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

If the courts seemed confused about what is meant, how do they expect the American people to follow it?

ConservativePartyNow on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

This is actually a key statement.

If “educated” men of law, professionals, highly trained and schooled, cannot decide what is “law”, than how can the common public ever expect to do the same?

How can a law, that cannot be easily defined, be applied against citizens?

When a bill is passed it should be easily understood by the great majority of ordinary citizens.

Otherwise you have these laws that unsuspecting citizens violate and the comment is “You need to know the law”.

right2bright on July 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

The language of the law is such because the federal government wanted the States to accept responsibility for establishment of the exchanges. It’s a well-known tactic called “getting people vested in the process”. The subsidies were meant to be the carrot to entice states into this scope of action. Along with the mega-bucks to be issued to cover the first few years of setting up/operating the exchanges.

After that time period, costs shift state-side. Some states can bear the costs. Others can’t.

One size doesn’t fit all very well when it comes to healthcare policy.

lineholder on July 22, 2014 at 2:19 PM

They felt the vibes and decided that state meant federal or state.

crrr6 on July 22, 2014 at 2:19 PM

obama just exempted the territories.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Well, Nanzi, you passed it and we still don’t know what is in it…

d1carter on July 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The sponsors of the legislation clearly did assume that states would establish exchanges. “By 2014, each state will set up what we’re calling a health-insurance exchange,” said President Obama weeks after signing the law. In August 2012, the New York Times corroborated the point: “When Congress passed legislation to expand coverage two years ago, Mr. Obama and lawmakers assumed that every state would set up its own exchange.’’

There’s another problem with the contention that Congress could not have intended a policy that would not work. The Obamacare law included something called “the Class Act,” which was supposed to help the disabled pay for long-term care. Critics warned that the program could not be viable as designed, so the law included a provision saying it would have to be projected to be solvent for 75 years to continue. The critics, it turned out, were right: The program could not establish solvency, and the administration had to abandon it and then agree to its formal repeal. In other words: Yes, it is entirely conceivable that Congress would enact a law that would prove unworkable; that it would enact a law that could be predicted to be unworkable; and that a specific provision of a law might doom it.

The AARP brief claims that “it is implausible, to say the least, that Congress intended to allow the entire Act to be cannibalized by a state’s choice not to establish its own Exchange.” All of the pro-IRS briefs say that allowing the states to block tax credits by refusing to establish an exchange would frustrate the law’s main goal of expanding coverage, which would be perverse.

Yet nobody disputes that the law allowed states to refuse to expand Medicaid, which also frustrates that goal. The law as enacted tried to get the states to go along with the expansion by denying all Medicaid funds to holdouts. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not use such a blunt instrument: It could withhold some Medicaid funds but not all of them.

The withholding of tax credits from states without exchanges could similarly have been meant to induce them to establish them. In that case the lawmakers just overestimated how powerful an inducement it would be, and eventually the administration, facing a disaster for its policy and political ambitions, used the IRS to nullify the inducement altogether. The states called the feds’ bluff.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Crystal Ball/Ouija board interpretations.

We’re a banana republica

portlandon on July 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

1. The OBOZO dictatorship has requested the FULL DC Court to rule on this criminal act by his irs – that court has been STACKED with d-cRAT/OBOZO appointees.
2. If it is then appealed to SCOTUS there are several options:
a. They could let stand the final ruling of the DC OBOZO/d-cRAT court
b. They could rule on it with the TRAITOR ROBERTS again bailing out OBOZO, or
c. They MIGHT apply the ACTUAL LAW and rule against OBOZOCARE (The ONLY outcome that applies real JUSTICE to the case)
3. If the final ruling is against OBOZO, the dictator might just IGNORE IT, since he thinks he’s ABOVE THE LAW. Boehner/Mcconnell and their worthless Repub-o-cRAT weasels in congress will then DO NOTHING, as usual.

It’s a long and difficult trip….but that’s ALWAYS true for gaining freedom from tyranny…

MicahStone on July 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

The 4th circuit is a rats nest of liberals. Does anyone know if any of the judges in this case were GOP appointees? This matters bcuz the DC circuit en banc is going to reverse in a New York minute. This is exactly why Dirty Harry stacked this circuit last year w the nuclear option.

Our side fights over semantics and tactics, while the left plays for keeps.

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

It depends on what the meaning of is State is !

burrata on July 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

…Court shopping!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Roberts, the traitor, will get a second chance.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

And, although I’d like to be proven wrong, I think he’ll choose the Benedict Arnold option again.

ebrown2 on July 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

This pretty much guarantees a review by the Supreme Court. Unless Obama can get the En Banc DC Circuit to reverse the DC ruling faster than the plantiffs can get the 4th Circuit ruling appealed to the Supreme Court.

As long as the two circuits are in conflict SCOUTS must hear this.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Well, since the DC court is packed with Obama drones, they will not be in conflict when it goes en banc. Are there any similar cases before circuit courts that have a reasonable shot before the full bench?

crrr6 on July 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Roberts, the traitor, will get a second chance.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Will he? Seems to me they could wait out the DC court for their stacked court decision.

wifarmboy on July 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Because when you say healthcare, the first thing that comes to mind is the IRS.

red villain on July 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

It’s also the first thing that comes to mind when you’re wondering what non-partisan executive-branch agency should have the law-making power to “interpret” ambiguities in a hyper-partisan law like Obamacare.

After all, as we’ve seen so recently, the IRS is stuffed to the gills with responsible, accountable, honorable, non-partisan bureaucrats, who would never scheme or lie or cheat or otherwise take advantage of their power in order to advance the political objectives of their boss, the president — right?

AZCoyote on July 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM

But what I want to know is HTF can 2 court decisions miraculously appear within minutes of one another just in time to pull Barry”s bacon out of the fire.

wyntre on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM

It’s a ramadan miracle :O

burrata on July 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work –

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

As others have stated, the specific intent was to force states to create exchanges. The courts shouldn’t try to fix language just because the language didn’t work.

Because overall the intent was to try to violate the laws of economics by making Obamacare work. Maybe you think that the courts can fix that by ordering healthcare to be cheaper??

corkie on July 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM

No wonder Josh Ernest looked like the cat who ate the canary at this morning’s presser when he said the WH wasn’t upset by the DC decision. They knew the 4th Circuit was going to rule in their favor.

But what I want to know is HTF can 2 court decisions miraculously appear within minutes of one another just in time to pull Barry”s bacon out of the fire.

wyntre on July 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM

that is pretty convenient!!

Sachiko on July 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM

No one knows what anything means with this “law”.

sorrowen on July 22, 2014 at 2:27 PM

The 4th circuit is a rats nest of liberals. Does anyone know if any of the judges in this case were GOP appointees?

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

None were GOP appointees.

All three were Democrat appointees.

2 from Obama, one from Clinton.

sentinelrules on July 22, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Well, since the DC court is packed with Obama drones, they will not be in conflict when it goes en banc.

crrr6 on July 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

As AP notes, quite correctly, IMHO;

But then, it takes just four votes of the Court to grant cert and agree to hear a case from a circuit court, which means that even if all five justices who votes to uphold the mandate two years ago would rather pass on this one, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy could force them to take it up by voting for cert. Will they do it? (Spoiler: Yes.)

I wouldn’t even exclude the possibility of Roberts voting for the SCOTUS to take this up, even if the en banc hearing results in the full DC Circuit reversing the 2-1 decision today. This is a little different than the mangled interpretation around ‘a tax’ or ‘not a tax’ – and goes right to the point that words, and their definitions, do mean something.

Because if that is no longer the case, and political optics taint or amend definitions, then we are little more than a banana republic.

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Does anyone know if any of the judges in this case were GOP appointees? This matters bcuz the DC circuit en banc is going to reverse in a New York minute. This is exactly why Dirty Harry stacked this circuit last year w the nuclear option.

Our side fights over semantics and tactics, while the left plays for keeps.

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Halbig 2/1:

2 Republican appointees (Bush I & Bush II). Democratic appointee dissented.

King 3/0:

3 Democratic appointees (2 by Clinton; 1 by Obama).

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:30 PM

why even go to law school if you are going to just make up interpretations of what the law intends or if you are going to defer to what some government flunkey says things mean? Judges are covering themselves in glory. Shesh.

warmairfan on July 22, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Well, since the DC court is packed with Obama drones, they will not be in conflict when it goes en banc.

crrr6 on July 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

No, there will exist a conflict when it goes en banc. You meant, perhaps, when it goes to the Supreme Court.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Wait, you mean people have finally read the bill to find out what is in the bill, and they still don’t understand it???

parke on July 22, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Why bother with court’s and laws any more? These liberal scumbags just do what they want anyway and scream racism at anyone who questions them.

rmkdbq on July 22, 2014 at 2:32 PM

how tormented the court seems in trying to determine what Congress intended

They intended exactly how they wrote it. And if you look at the legislative discussion on the subject, you can only come to one conclusion: they wanted the states to get the subsidies.

Patriot Vet on July 22, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Excellent memory and retrieval RWM. Now please get those links over to the SCOTUS, stat!

JusDreamin on July 22, 2014 at 2:35 PM

The supremes will grant cert but will likely await the Dc circuit reversal en banc.

That said, and I hope this doesn’t happen, even if Roberts comes to his senses, I would not blame Kennedy one bit to give him the finger and vote w the liberals. Kennedy is still furious w to Roberts from 2012.

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

That said, and I hope this doesn’t happen, even if Roberts comes to his senses, I would not blame Kennedy one bit to give him the finger and vote w the liberals. Kennedy is still furious w to Roberts from 2012.

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

He might be left-leaning, but Kennedy hates Obama.

blammm on July 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work –

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

I want to know where this “obvious intent” legal standard exists. For example the “obvious intent” of criminal laws is to catch criminals, but that doesn’t mean that rules regarding evidence and warrants are to be dismissed because they make it harder for the government to apply the “obvious intent” of the law.

And just what is the “obvious intent” here? It seems that the “obvious intent” is to put the government in control of the health care system.

The law was pretty darn clear that the subsidies were for state exchanges and Obama did not suddenly get the power to tax and provide subsidies just because you think his “obvious intent” is so noble.

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 2:43 PM

All Dem tyrannical legislation is essentially written on a chalkboard.

StubbornGreenBurros on July 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Face it, the law was not designed with the idea that states would refuse to set up their own exchages. The intent of the law is clear- to punish states that did not obey Obama.

Happy Nomad on July 22, 2014 at 2:47 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work –

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

You might as well say: “The obvious intent of the law was that the law should work…”

“… and therefore the law should be re-interpreted in such a way that the law will work.”

If that’s a legal principle, so much for the Constitution.

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work –

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

As others have stated, the specific intent was to force states to create exchanges. The courts shouldn’t try to fix language just because the language didn’t work.

corkie on July 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM

These are not mutually exclusive “intents.” So Congress’ incentives to the states unexpectedly failed. Solution in the face of reality: Amend Obamacare. Which reasoning provides the Supreme Court with the obvious and least disruptive Constitutional path –give the statute its plain, and not contorted, reading and place responsibility for any correction, if needed, where it belongs: on Congress.

Barnestormer on July 22, 2014 at 2:55 PM

District Court decision translation: Congress, go back and ratify your bill. THEN, you got it right. But, you were SOOO close. /DC court out. Now where is my money?

-west

mr_west on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The Halbig decision is a disgraceful attack on the Constitution’s Good Intentions clause. Ezra Klein explains. http://t.co/YEHiH9Pq1A

— Vox (@vauxnews) July 22, 2014

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

One court says they’re not legislators … Congress can rewrite the law.

The other court says we’re royal appointees of his higness the emperor and will legislate from the bench.

darwin on July 22, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The good intentions clause?

darwin on July 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Roberts, the traitor, will get a second chance.

Schadenfreude on July 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I guess we get to see what pumps Roberts wore with his earings.

itsspideyman on July 22, 2014 at 3:02 PM

The good intentions clause?

darwin on July 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM

It’s from the Vox parody account, but, for a second there, you actually could see Klein making that argument, right?

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

The good intentions clause?

darwin on July 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Isn’t that the one just before the wishful thinking clause?

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 3:06 PM

The good intentions clause?

darwin on July 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Isn’t that the one just before the wishful thinking clause?

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 3:06 PM

And right after the ‘Good and Plenty’ and ‘Good and Welfare’ clauses.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 3:08 PM

DC Circuit says the law is unambiguous and state exchanges mean state exchanges, period.

4th Circuit says the law is ambiguous and IRS lawfully resolved ambiguity in accord with congressional intent.

No wonder people have so little confidence in the judiciary.

I’m very curious to see the background on the judges who made these decisions. Can’t take the time to do it myself at the moment.

novaculus on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

And right after the ‘Good and Plenty’ and ‘Good and Welfare’ clauses.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Is that before or after the “PenNPhone Clause” and the “IWon Clause”?

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

I’m very curious to see the background on the judges who made these decisions. Can’t take the time to do it myself at the moment.

novaculus on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Clinton appointees.

ConstantineXI on July 22, 2014 at 3:13 PM

When it gets to the Supreme Court and they alllow this twisting of words then from that time on the name needs to change to Roberts Care.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on July 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM

I’m very curious to see the background on the judges who made these decisions. Can’t take the time to do it myself at the moment.

novaculus on July 22, 2014 at 3:12 PM

2 Clinton appointees and 1 Obama appointee.

In the DC case, the dissenter was a Carter appointee.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Blammm, you are correct but Kennedy, like justice Byron white before him, is actually drifting RIGHT on the bench.

matthew8787 on July 22, 2014 at 3:19 PM

One thing is clear the intent of the Democrats was not to read the bill so they can not say they intened any thing via the words,,,

they did not read it until it passed like Pelosie ordered them to do.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on July 22, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Well there might be salvation if SCJ Kennedy does indeed dislike King Putt.
Who knows what Roberts thinks?
Dear Liar seems to forget that he is only 8 years; Supremes are there for life. And President Present did (more than once) disparage the Supremes in several instances in different venues. This could result in a catastrophic blowback.

Been said before but I’ll repeat: Elections have consequences.
Elections fill judgeships. Judges interpret law and issue decisions.

Besides leadership, without good and proper judges … our nation is doomed.

Missilengr on July 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

So basically, rather than reading the statute as it was written, the 4th Circuit jurists accepted and recognized the political dynamics as being superior to the written word….and then built a case to support their pre-conceived politically expedient and biased decision.

So much for justice being blind and unbiased.

What’s worse, is that the jurists in the 4th Circuit also just rubber stamped every single one of President Obama’s unilateral changes to the legislation – like the delays of the Employer Mandate…because the words in the statute aren’t as important as the intent to better enable fascism.

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

The text of law is very clear. The 4th Circuit admits that. But they don’t want to follow the law as written so they invented a justification.

We have not been a nation of laws since we knowingly elected a felon as President.

talkingpoints on July 22, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Sophie,

Is there any difference or significance between a ruling from an appeals court in one district and the circuit court in another?

Does the appeals court have primacy, since both districts in this case are federal?

BobMbx on July 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM

On the other hand you’ve got five fingers.

Galtian on July 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

What happens when the laws are written so you have to pass them to see what’s in them.

formwiz on July 22, 2014 at 3:51 PM

So basically, rather than reading the statute as it was written, the 4th Circuit jurists accepted and recognized the political dynamics as being superior to the written word….and then built a case to support their pre-conceived politically expedient and biased decision.

Athos on July 22, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Reminds me of the time seven dudes managed to invent some contrived “right” to murder babies… claiming it was right there in the U.S. Constitution.

dpduq on July 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Apparently according to the court, we are a nation of intents not laws.

PackerBronco on July 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

If they can’t decide what the key phrase was designed to do, why don’t they follow the D.C. Circuit’s lead and stick with the plain text?

Because the court is saying that the provision at issue is ambiguous. (I disagree, but that’s what they’re saying.) Under the Chevron analysis, when the statute is ambiguous, the court’s decision is based on whether the administrative agency’s interpretation is based on a permissible construction of the statute. (In other words, if the statute could be interpreted two ways, the agency’s position prevails if it is based on one of those two possible interpretations).

acasilaco on July 22, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Reminds me of the time seven dudes managed to invent some contrived “right” to murder babies… claiming it was right there in the U.S. Constitution.

dpduq on July 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Clearly you are not sophisticated enough to see the emanations and penumbrae that radiate from the US Constitution.

slickwillie2001 on July 22, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The chamber and their whores in DC WANNNNNT offloaded crappy ObamaCare and the politicians want the power over people’s lives.

The only problem for the Chamber is when you feed the shark soon YOURE in the water bleeding too.

Short-sighted when you’re dealing with Progressives in the Ruling class.

PappyD61 on July 22, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Is there any difference or significance between a ruling from an appeals court in one district and the circuit court in another?

Does the appeals court have primacy, since both districts in this case are federal?

BobMbx on July 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM

There is no primacy, but the DC Circuit is more prestigious and its rulings on regulations, in particular, carry more weight.

Resist We Much on July 22, 2014 at 5:22 PM

The biggest thing lost in all of this is it’s not about the statute at all. If the Democrats had the House and the Senate, they’d be trying to fix this thing. What this is all about is not allowing the Republicans to fix it, for 2 reasons, one, if they fix it and it works, the Democrats look stupid for not allowing them to make amendments in the first place. Secondly, if the Republicans get their hands on this they may try to gut it, although I seriously doubt it, so the Democrats, and Obama, are playing keep-away.

The only reason they’ve been successful is because there is no leadership in the House. If there were, the House would have done something with the funding for this joke of a bill.

The courts really don’t want to do the right thing and I have visions of the whole DC circuit voting against the ruling. They just can’t look Congress in the eye and tell them they screwed up when they wrote it and send it back, which would be the right thing to do. They, instead, will allow the Democrats to play keep-away until January.

bflat879 on July 22, 2014 at 5:52 PM

AP, maybe you should update the 10:41 “nuclear” post with this tidbit?

Who is John Galt on July 22, 2014 at 7:17 PM

The biggest thing lost in all of this is it’s not about the statute at all. If the Democrats had the House and the Senate, they’d be trying to fix this thing. What this is all about is not allowing the Republicans to fix it, for 2 reasons, one, if they fix it and it works, the Democrats look stupid for not allowing them to make amendments in the first place. Secondly, if the Republicans get their hands on this they may try to gut it, although I seriously doubt it, so the Democrats, and Obama, are playing keep-away.

bflat879 on July 22, 2014 at 5:52 PM

I agree with that. But not that the Republicans could do something and haven’t. That is silly and ignores reality.

But if this were a normal law, the problems would be fixed through debate and legislation in Congress, the way our government is supposed to work.

But Obama and the Democrats will never allow Republicans to fix anything. Because they would gut it. Because it was never passed with approval by the PEOPLE, only by a very time limited Democrat majority in Congress. The results of the elections directly after passage should have stopped it from going forward as it is now written.

The Supreme Court should take that into consideration, the way to remedy the problems with the language is through legislation, not allowing the IRS to make it up.

Hopefully, that will be the final ruling.

Laws should be written to work, and rewritten by Congress until they do.

There should be some remedy to fix a government that knows that the normal way things work have to be avoided to keep a bad law on the books! They shouldn’t be able to do that! There should be consequences for going against the people’s wishes.

petunia on July 22, 2014 at 7:27 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The law doesn’t work as written, everyone agrees, and our Constitution provides a remedy for that! It is to go back to Congress to fix it, not to let a politicized IRS, unaccountable to the PEOPLE make it up!!!!

The IRS doesn’t make law, the Congress makes law! THAT IS THE ISSUE!!!!

And under any other circumstances Congress would be voting on it again, and making changes, but Obama and the Democrats won’t let any Republican ever have any say about anything that goes on in this country!!!! So they make up new rules about how to make a law. So one half of the country NEVER gets a say about anything!!!! And we are the half that pays the bills!

That is a Banana Republic, not America.

petunia on July 22, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Next time I get called for jury duty, can I just tell the judge that I won’t follow his interpretation of the law, but rather I need to decide for myself what the legislature meant when they passed it?

malclave on July 22, 2014 at 7:48 PM

The obvious intent of the law was to make the exchanges work – which needs subsidies. that is why they worked hard to interpret the meaning – and not just stick to the reading of it as the DC Circuit did. improve the ability of the 2-party ruling class puppets to bankrupt or murder the masses at will.

Gebeaux on July 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

S. D. on July 22, 2014 at 8:09 PM

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