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Supreme Court Resigns Duties, Tortures English Language to Save Obamacare

ObamaOrwell

“If only there was some branch of government designed to review legislative actions, thwarting the intentions of Congress if they conflict with the law… oh, wait, that branch does exist…”

 writes: In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell observed that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Today is Orwell’s birthday; it’s also the day the Supreme Court released its 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell, which preserves the Affordable Care Act at the expense of plain English.

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“The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact.”

The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that the provision of the law mandating an “Exchange established by the State” should be interpreted to include an Exchange not established by any state, but instead by an agency of the federal government, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

[More – In Upholding Obamacare’s Subsidies, Justice Roberts Rewrites the Law—Again]

In his spot-on dissent, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia explains why this is an “impossible possibility”:

Justice Scalia testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal
Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.…

[Read the full text here, at Reason.com]

Faced with overwhelming confirmation that “Exchange established by the State” means what it looks like it means, the Court comes up with argument after feeble argument to support its contrary interpretation. None of its tries comes close to establishing the implausible conclusion that Congress used “by the State” to mean “by the State or not by the State.”

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The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact. Intent should trump plain English—even when the two directly oppose each other—writes Roberts, because the Court’s job is to defer to the will of lawmakers, and even contort logic to assist them, “if at all possible”:

In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined—“to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan...(read more)

Hit & Run : Reason.com

More from Reason on the King v. Burwell ruling here and here.

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2 Comments on “Supreme Court Resigns Duties, Tortures English Language to Save Obamacare”

  1. […] Also see – Supreme Court Resigns Duties, Tortures English Language to Save Obamacare] […]


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