The Supreme Court of the United States effectively rewrote the text of Obamacare to save the legislation.
By a 6-3 majority, the Court upheld the Fourth Circuit’s decision in King v. Burwell and decided that federal subsidies were available on state Obamacare exchanges, even though the text of the so-called Affordable Care Act said that such subsidies were only available on “State” exchanges.
The majority acknowledged that the word “State” was, at best, “ambiguous.” And it rejected the idea that an executive agency, in this case the Internal Revenue Service, could decide the meaning of that term.
Rewriting the law is evidently meant for the courts, not the administration–or Congress.
The majority–led, again, by Chief Justice John Roberts, who infamously interpreted a “penalty” as a tax to uphold Obamacare’s constitutionality in 2012–held that the “context” of the word “State” mattered more than the “most natural reading.”
And the context was that Obamacare had to be saved from itself. After all, Congress could not have meant to pass a bad, self-defeating policy, could it?
The dissent, by Justice Antonin Scalia, was blistering.
“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State,'” he wrote.