Delivering Due Deference

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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91 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    Man, I have been waiting for this since I heard the decision came down.

    Excuse me, world, but I have to turn off my phone and email and settle in for some good Likko…Report

  2. Avatar Chico Marx
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    says:

    And the majority opinion criticizes Congress for what it politely describes as “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” resulting in no small part from unorthodox means used to create the law and seeming negligence on the part of certain Members of Congress in enacting it. Slip op. at 14-15.

    Atsa what I said. The whole-a thing was just a slip-op.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Chico Marx
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      “And the majority opinion criticizes Congress for what it politely describes as “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” resulting in no small part from unorthodox means used to create the law and seeming negligence on the part of certain Members of Congress in enacting it. Slip op. at 14-15. ”

      It’s an amazing piece of language to be used by a court. The politics of passage were, of course unusual (due the GOP’s 100% obstruction), but not unorthodox, and certainly not legally unorthodox.

      As for ‘seeming negligence on the part of certain Members of Congress in enacting it’ (meaning that there are problems with the text), please find me a similar law which doesn’t.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    In the paragraph that begins “In order to make health insurance affordable…” do you mean Medicaid rather than Medicare?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Cain
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      No, I mean Medicare.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Medicare is a purely federal program. The states have never had anything to do with it. In terms of determining what private insurance is inclined to cover, Medicare didn’t cover prescription drugs until a decade ago (Part D), and that addition was done because Medicare was so out of line/date with private insurance (and current medical practice).Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Cain
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          says:

          Why, then, did PPACA place such emphasis on the state’s expanding Medicare availability? Besides, Medicare is used as a benchmark standard for pricing services on a state-by-state basis.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            Medicaid expansion. The states were encouraged to expand Medicaid.Report

          • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            @michael-cain is right.

            The sentence reads: “This is because the nuts and bolts of how the insurance policies work, in particular what they cover and what benefits are provided, are linked strongly to Medicare. (Note that Medicare is also administered by the several states rather than by the Federal government — in part for the legally arcane reason that health care and insurance regulation are traditionally state functions, and in part for the practical reason that different geographic areas of the country face different health care challenges and different economic conditions.)”

            The first use of Medicare is valid, but the second is not, unless I’m missing something. Medicare is a federal program, administered through Social Security and intended to cover the elderly and those with certain conditions such as renal disease; there is negligible difference in it from state to state.

            Medicaid, on the other hand, is administered by states and varies considerably from state to state. It’s designed to cover the poor and disabled. Who gets coverage varies considerably from state to state and usually reflects political ideology. PPACA attempted to enforce new mandates on each state’s administration of medicaid, which, for some reason, no one anticipated SCOTUS to shoot down.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Cain
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          says:

          I had a chance to pause for breath here at my day job and dug down a bit. @michael-cain is absolutely correct here, and the OP was in error. I have revised the OP to reflect the correct state of affairs, and to clean up two other issues (the “affordability” threshold is 8% of annual income, not 7% as originally posted, and I left a danging clause unedited about halfway through). Regrets for the errors and thank you for pointing them out.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
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            The threshold is somewhat more complicated than that. My wife and I spend more than 8% of our household income on our share of the premium for the company-supplemented retiree health insurance that covers the two of us. But because our share of the premium for me alone is less than 8% of household income, we don’t qualify to shop on the exchange. If the cost for me alone goes over 8%, then we have the option to shop on the exchange and to reduce our total to 8%; in effect, her coverage would become free. We have quite a bit of control over our total income for the time being (withdrawals from a large IRA rather than a fixed pension; long story). It’s all rather bizarre, but I keep a spreadsheet because it’s possible that next year we’ll be able to reduce our gross income slightly but reduce the cost of insurance by a larger amount.Report

  4. Avatar zic
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    I’m so relieved. I think the opposite outcome might have been enough of an economic shock to send us back into recession. Not to mention the millions of families that would have lost a small vestige of financial security that didn’t have two years ago.

    I wonder, in the wake of this decision, followed by several other high-profile decisions where leaving the ‘intent’ of legislation (and the discretion to executive rule making), we’re going to see more legislation that doesn’t spell out specifics so that unpalatable stuff can get done. The classic example here would be the contraceptive mandate — a line in the law that instructs implementing agencies to include health-care services for women that have traditionally gone unmet, without actually spelling out ‘birth control.’ I’ve argued vehemently for this as a good thing. But I do understand that it’s a path that opens the door for the ruling party to establish their notion of the content that fills in the vague brushstroke, and some future GOP-led government is as likely to write similar legislation to accomplish things I don’t like without my being aware of it until after the fact.

    I’m not certain here if this is old hat, or I’m just more aware; that Chevron exists suggests its perhaps old and business as usual. Is this so?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to zic
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      There would have been blood in the water had it gone the other way. It’s also an open bet if it would have been Democratic, Republican or both.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to zic
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      Yeah; I mean, allowing the Executive Branch to just make stuff up because they’re sure that it’s totally what Congress meant allows quite a lot, really.

      Like, “sure, we *know* that Congress passed a law saying ‘no collection of domestic communications’. But…surely ‘domestic’ means American citizens contacting each other directly, through methods and equipment entirely operating in American territory, right? I mean, we can collect foreign persons’ communications all day long. And if someone is sending email to their friend in Yemen, we can collect that since it’s out of the country. And…”Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to zic
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      That is a very common way to do things (hence Chevron). In Chevron, congress basically told states with bad air to figure out why, and left it at that. The EPA then put together a ton of regulations implementing Congress’ legislative goal. Chevron sued to say there was no authority for those regulations.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    The question I have is whether this will be the last of the challenges to the ACA or will the opponents find a new way to challenge the law.

    This is one of the “too many Veto points” in our government. The opposition to Obamacare is drive by a sincere (and IMO misguided) opposition to the Welfare State (even the smallest bit of one) as being incompatible with liberty and small government. They are probably right on the small government part. I think they are dead wrong on the liberty part.

    We still have a lot of people who are willing to spend lots of money and time on repealing any and all welfare state provisions including the entire New Deal.

    Political commentators are noting that not bringing up the Chevron Deference means that GOP politicians and Presidential hopefuls can’t campaign on coming up with a different interpretation. Meaning the subsidies are permanent unless we get a GOP Pres and 2/3 majority GOP Congress to defund the entire thing and repeal.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Saul Degraw
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      As I’ve noted elsewhere, my own speculation is that the fix was in on this case from the beginning and that Roberts and the liberal wing are the ones who pulled it up from the Appeals Court prematurely (not that we’ll ever know for sure). For the express purpose of nailing things down so that further challenges in the courts get slapped down as quickly as possible.

      I don’t disagree with Brother Burt’s analysis that either standing or Chevron should have been the basis for a decision. I simply think the majority had its own goal and that standing/Chevron were not suitable tools for accomplishing those.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain
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        I’m sure that as long as Adler breathes, he will continue to fight the good fight.

        Although honestly, his FIRST tilt was bad enough. This second one was shameful. I’m terrified as to what legal theory will inform his third tilt at the windmill.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw
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      “The question I have is whether this will be the last of the challenges to the ACA or will the opponents find a new way to challenge the law.”

      Of course they will. But presumably they have fired their best shots. If there were some argument that was compelling on purely legal grounds, the opponents would have brought it up long ago. The Court has shown its unwillingness to tear down the ACA just because. So all that is left is the shouting, which will last until the day before the right wing claims that ACA was its idea all along.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Richard Hershberger
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        Their best shot was the Broccoli argument. This one, if you stripped it of partisan context, was much worse. (And, as noted, an own goal. As SCOTUS has no explicitly ruled that the subsidies are integral to the law, and not a matter of IRS discretion.).

        I believe the newest lawsuit concept is pretty hilarious, in that it’s over the White House spending money on something Congress explicitly authorized but never funded, so the White House dug the funds out elsewhere after Congress failed to foot the bill.

        The hilarity is that, even if the President was legally wrong to spend that money — the people who GOT the money would have a slam dunk case against Congress, as they are legally owed that money. (And by “people” I mean “insurance companies” by which I mean “have lawyers on retainer and no problems suing”.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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      There may be more challenges but the longer the law lasts the stronger it gets. Also, frankly, I’m of the opinion they’ve already thrown the worst they can at it. This case was itself pretty out there. I’m of the opinion that the ACA goes down now only via a new act of Congress.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to North
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        ‘There may be more challenges but the longer the law lasts the stronger it gets. ”

        Yes, that’s why it was so important to pass it to find out what was in it. After all, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to DensityDuck
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          An amusing catchphrase but meaningless in content. Perhaps if the GOP had wished to contribute to the debate on the ACA they could have read it and made suggestions rather than voting in lockstep opposition. They tried for all the marbles, they lost, now if they want to undo it they need a similar electoral majority. That’s how the game works.Report

      • Avatar SaulDegraw in reply to North
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        You are probably right.

        I was just musing about social aspects of American politics and why so many are opposed to any form of welfare state and willing to spend inordinate amounts of time and effort against it. Lee points out that European conservatives made peace with the welfare state in ways that seem impossible in the U.S.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to SaulDegraw
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          Europe and the US are very different birds. Even Canada and Europe sit relatively far apart on that spectrum. I suspect it has to do with how crowded Europe is and has been for an extremely long time.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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            says:

            Its because European conservatism has a different origin point than American conservatism. European conservatism comes from the aristocratic tradition. Part of the aristocratic tradition has always been the concept of noblesse oblige. The nobility, at least in theory, was to see to the care of the common people physically. Its easy to come to peace with the welfare state from an aristocratic tradition.

            American conservatism does not come from the aristocratic tradition. It comes more from a sturdy yeoman tradition where the ideal was the individual on his own property earning a living by his own effort. Any sort of collectivism goes against this.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to North
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            says:

            I want to echo what @north said, and add that much of the European welfare state came about due to said Europeans blowing the living piss out of each other in a couple of wars.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to aaron david
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              says:

              Eh, I don’t know about this. Social legislation started to appear in European countries long before any socialist party could win elections or exercise power. Bismarck’s social legislation in 1880’s Germany was a good example of this. At least a few European conservative parties thought that they needed to co-opt socialism by introducing socialism light since the late 19th century. The conservatives in the democratic or democratic-esque governments outside of Europe made no such attempt at co-option.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    It’s gonna be hella funny watching all the people who insist that “well-regulated militia” has a specific meaning and is meant to be taken literally tell us that “established by the state” is actually referring to government generically, rather than the specific American definition of “state” which is how it’s used everywhere else in the ACA.

    It seems like this whole business could have been handled by Congress passing a law that said “the text in question is hereby amended to read…” and then putting in the proper drafting. Is there a reason why that didn’t happen? (I mean, is there a law or precedent saying that Congress isn’t allowed to rewrite legislation that’s currently being discussed in a Supreme Court case?)Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DensityDuck
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      The normal place to clean up drafting errors like this one is conference committee. The PPACA never went through a conference committee because Scott Brown (R) was elected to replace Ted Kennedy and the revised bill would have died by filibuster in the Senate. So would any simple bill to make the statutory change. Some of the Republicans presently in Congress have indicated that they would vote for a bill with the fix, but only if it also eliminates the individual mandate. Such a bill would either die by Democratic filibuster in the Senate, or be vetoed by President Obama.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to DensityDuck
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      Basically DD the GOP indicated that the only way they would allow any correction was if said correction also eviscerated the law. So politically it was absolutely not going to pass unless, maybe, if the court decided against the law and then there were hordes of angry voters with torches who had lost their insurance outside of the congresscritters doors (and maybe not even then).Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      The only connection with these two cases is that people with strong liberal alignments (like me!) come out differently on both than you do.

      Here, there was no serious argument that congress meant to restrict subsidies and conflicting interpretations on whether isolated language did so. This was an obvious outcome.

      On the second amendment, there is no serious debate (that I know of) that the founders were motivated by the fact that the UK disarmed colonists to enforce their rule. That said, there is a question about what “well regulated militia” means and how to apply the whole thing in a world with whole categories of weapons the founders could never have imagined.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    I think there’s an error in the OP:

    In the section “Reading Statutes For Text and Context”, there is the text:

    That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have to go through some gyrations. The majority opinion And the majority opinion criticizes Congress for what it politely describes as “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,”

    The second sentence seems like it’s missing a part.Report

  8. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    I do have to congratulate you on going through the entire post without once mentioning Gruber.

    As for the opinion, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”

    But the thing is, if the IRS hadn’t been giving subsidies then we wouldn’t BE HERE today. The plaintiff’s argument was that it had been wrong all along, that Congress did not intended for taxes paid by citizens in Exchange states to go to citizens in non-Exchange states as subsidies.

    The problem with saying “maybe this was wrong but it’s how the agency interpreted it so we’re just gonna go with it” is that the Court explicitly rejected that reasoning by not considering Chevron.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to DensityDuck
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      And people can go on and on Gruber without mentioning everybody else involved disagreed with what he said. Nobody, or did anything written, back up what he said. Nor did Gruber have, what i believe they call, a vote.

      But Gruber!!!Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
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        I’ve said this before, but I’ve met guys like Gruber a hundred times. They’re brought in purely for their technical skills. They might have some influence outside their specific focus by pointing out inconsistencies or optimizations, but it’s purely on the margins. Afterward, they act as if they were major policy makers, and refer to all the actual movers and shakers (whom they might or might not have been introduced to once) by their first names.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to DensityDuck
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      There was an Obamacare lawsuit with a significant holding titled Gruber? I wasn’t aware of one.

      As for the policy wonk who shot his mouth off, he has fish all to do with the merits or the reasoning of this case.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DensityDuck
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      Gruber misspoke once. There’s no relevance to anything.

      The IRS did that because it was told to by congress, and everyone always understood that the law would include that instruction. Had the IRS refused, it would have been sued and would have lost.

      You’re right about Chevron. The court held that the ACA provides the relevant authority, not that the IRS reasonably thought it did.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck
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      So we’ve established that what people say about a law at the time it’s written and passed doesn’t matter, and neither does the text itself; the only thing that counts is how the regulatory bureaucracy puts into effect what it believes is the actual intent of the law.

      In other words, we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to DensityDuck
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        (I should know better than this.)

        Actually, we’ve established precisely the opposite. The Court followed a long-established line of cases that hold that courts are to give effect to the overall intent of the statutory scheme. In other words, we have to read the bill — as a whole — to find out what’s in it.

        (If you think this was bad, you should take a look at some of the opinions about major environmental legislation, especially CERCLA.)

        Or, put another way, the Court showed appropriate deference to the role of the legislature in drafting complex litigation.

        (Please note that the Court expressly did not give any weight to the actions of the regulatory bureaucracy; it decided that it, not the IRS, was the appropriate authority to interpret the statute.)

        Very nice post, counselor.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to DensityDuck
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        Correction DD, we’ve established what -one- person, cherry picked out of many people said on -one- occasion, cherry picked out of many occasions.
        Why is it that what all the other people say and what was said on all the other occasions and what even that one person says recanting what he previous said doesn’t matter?

        Oh yes, because for conservatives the outcome is all that matters.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko
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    And: more opinions tomorrow. It’s like Christmas in June!Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Burt Likko
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      For all of us. I’m on pins and needles for the gay marriage decision.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to North
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        I cannot help but think that Obergefell will be announced on Monday.

        That leaves Johnson, Arizona Legislature, Utility Air, and Glossip as possible opinions for tomorrow’s add-on session.

        I’m predicting we get Johnson and Utility Air tomorrow. While I’m out on that limb, I’ll go further and predict a bad day for the Government. In Johnson, petitioner prevails against the Government, 7-2, majority opinion by Scalia, dissent by Sotomayor joined by Kagan. In Utility Air, the Chief writes a 5-4 opinion striking down the EPA regulations as unreasonably failing to consider generator costs in violation of Congress’ instructions, and Bryer gets the dissent with Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joining him.

        Which would leave Arizona Legislature, Glossip, and Obergefell for Big Monday 2015. I may just have to call in sick.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
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          I could see Roberts going the other way on Utility Air, but only if he thinks the current deal is the best one that the coal-burners are likely to get. This is another of those situations where I accuse him of looking out for corporate America in spite of itself. Admittedly in full cynic mode here, but I think the CJ has decided that overall public sentiment is such that the largely-free-ride on coal emissions and waste is over. So this boils down to whether he thinks the requirements on mercury will be more or less expensive the next time it gets to the Court. There are a lot of big marginal coal ash ponds out there, and a couple of spills in unfortunate places provide a lot of ammunition for even tighter controls.

          Arizona Legislature is the case I’m really interested in, not just because of my own interest in the citizen initiative role, but because the opinion could be almost anything. It’s a dark horse candidate for most-controversial opinion of the term; say if the Court rules that 20% of the US House districts are improperly drawn, an actual possibility.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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          Everyone who loves Wodehouse is thrilled that there’s case called “Glossop” (or close enough).

          Jeeves,” said. “A rummy communication has arrived. From Mr. Glossop.”
          “Indeed, sir?”

          “I will read it to you. Handed in at Upper Bleaching. Message runs as follows: ‘When you come tomorrow, bring my football boots. Also, if humanly possible, Irish water-spaniel. Urgent. Regards. Tuppy.’ What do you make of that, Jeeves?”

          “As I interpret the document, sir, Mr. Glossop wishes you, when you come tomorrow, to bring his football boots. Also, if humanly possible, an Irish water-spaniel. He hints that the matter is urgent, and sends his regards.”

          “Yes, that’s how I read it, too. But why football boots?”

          “Perhaps Mr. Glossop wishes to play football, sir.”

          I considered this.

          “Yes,” I said. “That may be the solution. But why would a man, staying peacefully at a country-house, suddenly develop a craving to play football?”

          “I could not say, sir.”

          “And why an Irish water-spaniel?”

          “There again I fear I can hazard no conjecture, sir.”

          “What is an Irish water-spaniel?”

          “A water-spaniel of a variety bred in Ireland, sir.”

          “You think so?”

          “Yes, sir.”

          “Well, perhaps you’re right.

          Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater
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    Re: Scalia, I just read this from TPM:

    To defend making the subsidies available to consumers everywhere, Roberts cited a line the dissent to the 2012 decision in favor of Obamacare, in which Scalia said, “Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”

    Interesting….Report

  11. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    I have very little to say about the verdict, other than — as with the possibility of Mitt Romney winning — it seemed weird how anyone thought it was going to turn out any other way than it did.

    What I do find a little interesting, however, is how just quickly we went from searching for the “original intent” of laws going from the Only Reasonable Standard to ‘judicial activism.’Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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      Original Intent for me. Strict Construction for thee.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly
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      I don’t know why I thought a Google Image Search for “He Whose Ox Is Gored” would yield something I might use here. Didn’t really think it through. I did learn about a remarkably clean-cut-looking (as these things go) heavy metal band from Seattle, though. Seriously, what heavy metal bass player shows up to the recording studio in an Oxford shirt?

      …What were we talking about? Oh, yeah.

      “Original intent” is the correct standard, except when it isn’t. Then “plain meaning” is. Except when that isn’t, either. Then, “context-driven analysis” is the correct standard, except for when it isn’t. Sometimes you throw in a little “policy analysis,” too.

      I know it’s complex, we attorneys go to law school for three years to learn these things. But I hope that clears things up.Report

  12. Avatar Joe Kerr
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    The legal controversy in this case results from Congress having written a law that quite clearly did not actually do what they quite clearly intended it to do.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Joe Kerr
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      a law that quite clearly arguably did not actually do what they quite clearly intended it to do.

      Fixed that for you. There was one provision that could be interpreted to prevent subsidies. There were other readings (e.g. federal government could establish “such” exchanges) that gave another plausible reading. Which gets you to legislative intent. Which, as you say, quite clearly gave the correct answer.

      On a less politically-charged law this would have been unanimously decided by any group of >=1 federal judges in the country.Report

  13. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Ah, god forbid the law be read as it was actually written. Can’t have that. It’d ruin the law. Hmm..how we gonna fix this. Oh, we’ll just interpret it the way we want to, like that penalty, it really a tax. We’re good.Report

  14. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    Before this case, I had thought that if the government won, a future Republican president could theoretically just have his/her IRS change the rule and say “no subsidies for federal exchanges.” But since the scotus didn’t decide the case on Chevron grounds, does that mean a future president couldn’t do this?Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Agreed. Only surprising thing about it is that it was a 6-3 strong decision instead of, for example, a 4-2-3 (or even 4-1-4) weak decision based on Chevron.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to nevermoor
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          I think Roberts is really, really sick of ACA claims and didn’t want the Court to be nibbled to death by ducks, and he certainly didn’t want to see the opposite version of this back up in 4 or 8 years if the GOP couldn’t repeal it wholesale and had to tinker with IRS subsidies.

          His judicial views might not be in line with mine, but he seems to take the law and the Constitution seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s been getting a bit..offended..by some of the purely partisan legal crap going on.

          You can be partisan as a judge or lawyer without being a hack.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Morat20
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            I’m not sure about the first bit (it’s just as plausible that he sincerely believed there was no question about congress’ intent so no reason to defer to the IRS) but I agree with the rest of it completely. He’ll make decisions and votes I hate, but he’s operating on a whole different level from the three hacks.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to nevermoor
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              The thing is, I was pretty certain going in that whatever happened, they wouldn’t gut Chevron. That’d kill the whole court system. Chevron’s there for a reason.

              They also wouldn’t gut the basics of statutory construction — another way to strangle the Courts. Basically put, Robert’s wasn’t going to vote for any changes that would flood the court with nit-picking lawsuits of dubious merit. He’s also not going to allow any situation where Courts are routinely overturning laws because of typos or minor ambiguous that can and should be resolved by the people who turn the law into actual reality.

              Now, that didn’t foreclose Bush v. Gore level shenanigans or finding some weird loophole to gut the law, but after the first ACA case the odds of him doing this seemed low across the board: It was bad politics (it’d screw the GOP and conservatives), bad judicial practice (making close calls or resolving unique issues is one thing, twisting and distorting the law to get a result you want is another. SCOTUS can’t afford to do the latter too often. Between Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, SCOTUS has probably pushed that envelope as far as it can for now. I wonder if Roberts’ is having second thoughts on Citizens United?), and bad for business and the economy.

              Place a Corporatist hat, a GOP hat, or a legal scholar’s hat on Roberts — they all push him towards upholding the ACA here. That doesn’t mean he would — he’s a smart guy and a lawyer, and maybe he could have threaded the needle — but unless he’s got some heavy bias I’m not seeing, none of them would have pushed him to seek that narrow, twisty path.

              Now Scalia, Thomas, and Alito…..Scalia, honestly, seems to be descending into hackdom. He came to the exact opposite conclusion on the key aspect of this case as he did a few years ago — and had that quote thrown in his face, which probably explains the nasty tantrum.

              Thomas just has a plain weird view of the Constitution, the Law, and the way it should be done that half the time I can’t parse. I think he’s somehwat consistent, it’s just he’s really off on his own world that I don’t grok.

              I honestly don’t know what goes on with Alito. I’ve mostly ignored him, so I couldn’t tell you. I think he, Scalia, and Thomas all started with the Birch Society and kind went off from there.

              Sometimes I just think SCOTUS is simply…too old. Maybe it’s just being out of touch that’s doing it. All 9 of them live in a bubble, and some of them have been in the bubble a LONG time and some of them seek out even more restrictive bubbles.Report

  15. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    By the way, while I know the Supreme Court justices are highly principled people who let their profound knowledge of the law and deep reverence for the Constitution guide them, when I saw the headline that the decision was 6-3, I knew immediately who the three were. And so did you.Report

  16. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    Arizona Legislature pushed off again. Based on SCOTUSblog’s frequent remarks that opinions are released when they’re done, that Arizona is the oldest case remaining, plus the now six-month delay on the cert decision for Hickenlooper v. Kerr, I suspect that the Court is going to attempt to do something messy/tricky about citizen initiatives.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      Who is left on tap to write the opinions?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to morat20
        Ignored
        says:

        So far, Kennedy and Ginsburg have written six opinions each this Term. Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan have each written seven. Scalia and Breyer have both written eight. They try to work it out so that the work is spread out pretty close to evenly.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          There are a lot of people out there trying to guess who’s doing the writing based on the work load. My perception, reading their comments, is that their opinions are very much flavored by what outcome they’re hoping for. Eg, those who want Arizona’s redistricting commission to stand predict Ginsberg will write it; those who think the commission should be toast think Kennedy will. Same thing for the EPA case — Scalia if the EPA gets skewered, Kennedy if the majority goes easier on the agency.

          Myself, for whatever reason I expect to have a bad day Monday: the drug cocktail approved, the EPA told to start over on mercury, and significant reductions in the power of citizen initiatives. The only encouraging thought I have on the last one is that killing Arizona’s commission does in several other ones, so the Court will have found that 15-20% of all US House districts are improperly drawn. That’s a hell of a political decision.Report

  17. Avatar Shelley
    Ignored
    says:

    Scalia is a reminder of how important it is, next time somebody bad in the White House nominates somebody bad for the Supreme Court, that we refuse to accept it.Report

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