Dueling Rulings Hasten Obamacare’s Almost Certain Path Back to the Supreme CourtPosted: July 22, 2014
For National Review Online, Hans A. von Spakovsky writes: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: two different federal courts of appeal, issuing completely contradictory rulings on the very same day, on the very same issue.
“An Exchange established by the federal government cannot possibly be ‘an exchange established by the State.’ To hold otherwise would be to engage in distortion, not interpretation.”
— Senior Judge Ray Randolph
That’s what happened Tuesday. If nothing else, the dueling rulings should hasten the day when the next phase of litigation involving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reaches the Supreme Court.
In Halbig v. Burwell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the administration, voiding an IRS regulation that provided tax credits in the form of a subsidy to individuals purchasing health insurance through exchanges run by the federal government. Meanwhile, in Richmond, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held the exact opposite: In King v. Burwell, it concluded that the IRS had the power to authorize such subsidies.
The language of the statute is not ambiguous, so the Justice Department was forced to argue that the IRS rule was a valid exercise of regulatory authority to implement the intent of the law.
The Obamacare law specifically says that the federal government can provide subsidies for insurance bought on an exchange “established by the State.” But there is no mention whatsoever of extending the subsidies to those who purchase coverage on an exchange run by the federal government.
The language of the statute is not ambiguous, so the Justice Department was forced to argue that the IRS rule was a valid exercise of regulatory authority to implement the intent of the law. And the intent of Congress, DOJ claimed, could not have been for Americans in states that refused to set up exchanges to be unable to claim a tax credit or subsidy just because the federal government had to step in to set up the exchange…(read more)
— Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Along with John Fund, he is the coauthor of Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (HarperCollins/Broadside 2014).
- What’s next after Obamacare’s defeat in Halbig v. Burwell? [updated] (powerlineblog.com)
- Statement on D.C. Circuit’s Ruling In Halbig v. Burwell (cato.org)
- Fourth Circuit upholds IRS tax credit rule (washingtonpost.com)
- “Congress is Supreme in Matters of Policy”: D.C. Circuit Rules Against Obama Administration In Halbig (jonathanturley.org)
- On the other hand: Fourth Circuit upholds ObamaCare subsidies for federal exchange consumers (hotair.com)
- Halbig Is Not About a ‘Drafting Error’ (nationalreview.com)
- BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Panel Says Most Obamacare Subsidies Illegal (punditfromanotherplanet.com)