Skip to comments.On the other hand: Fourth Circuit upholds ObamaCare subsidies for federal exchange consumers
Posted on 07/22/2014 11:15:41 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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:
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.
Fed Appeals trumps circuit all day
a literal reading of the statute undoubtedly accords more closely with their [the plaintifs] position.
Gosh. Who ever interprets the words in a law or contract literally? /s
They really think we are that stupid. Sadly, enough of us are. Those three judges have no respect for the meaning of words or the rule of law. Why should I?
These judges are insulting our intelligence.
“You have to pass the bill to have no idea what it means.”
But won't SCOTUS wait until the matter has been finally decided in the DC Circuit?
I don't agree that the judicial torment has to do with the meaning of a clearly worded clause in the law.
The torment arises over how far to compromise ones honesty, dignity and self respect when bending over backwards to protect the incompetent and feckless airhead we have as president.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Circuit stands on the same level as The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. One does not trump the other. The three levels of the Federal Judiciary are: District Courts, Courts of Appeals (one for each Judicial Circuit, and The Supreme Court.
It is just a new expensive welfare scheme
Yet another assault on America by Judicial Activists.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less."
"The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all."
In other words, party affiliation and activism is what these clown “judges” use to make their decisions. Our “judicial” system is the biggest circus to ever come down the pike.
The court could deny an appeal and make both the 4th and the DC Circuit go en banc, but it's probably unlikely. I'd bet on a stay of the DC Circuit's decision and an accepted appeal by SCOTUS. Then we'll see if the Obots still have the blackmail photos of Chief Justice Roberts.
There was a time when courts refused to try to read stuff into poorly drafted legislation and would just uphold the letter of the law and advise the legislature that if they actually intended something different than what was written, that they amend the law accordingly.
These courts know that there is no way even a word of this law is going to get “amended” without a complete overhaul, they are forcing interprtations that will rescue the law rather than leaving it up to congress to fix it.
This is a dishonest opinion.
So basically as I read and understand this everything gets kicked back to the IRS for them to make good decisions on wording interpretation.
What could possibly go wrong?
This reminds me of how "tormented" Bill Clinton was when he asked if being "alone" with Monica Lewinksy meant "alone in the Oval Office," or "alone in the larger West Wing?"
Someone is sure to argue that when Congress meant "established by the state," they didn't mean the sovereign states in the Constitution, they meant the larger "federal state of the union."
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.”I don’t much care where ” said Alice.”Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.” so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.”Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
saw this on a comment from another board.. worth a watch.
“Jonathan Gruber, ACA architect, on video, at the 31:30 minute mark, stating for the public to know that without a State exchange, there are no subsidies”
Who’d have thought that unclear pronouns could be the downfall of Obamacare?