June 18, 2021

Supreme Court Rulings

“The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act… The justices did not reach the main issue in the case: whether the entirety of the ACA was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. Instead, by a vote of 7-2, the justices ruled that neither the states nor the individuals challenging the law have a legal right to sue, known as standing.” SCOTUSblog

“The Supreme Court [also] ruled Thursday [in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia] that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause when the city stopped working with a Catholic organization that refused to certify same-sex couples as potential foster parents… The problem, [Justice] Roberts made clear, is the existence of a ‘formal mechanism for granting exceptions’ in the first place, because such a scheme ‘‘invite[s]’ the government to decide which reasons for not complying with the policy are worthy of solicitude.’...

“The city, Roberts wrote, has not shown that its goals of maximizing the number of foster families and minimizing the city’s legal liability will be jeopardized by giving CSS an exemption from the non-discrimination policy. To the contrary, Roberts suggested, ‘including CSS in the program seems likely to increase, not reduce, the number of available foster parents.’ Roberts acknowledged the city’s ‘weighty’ interest in the ‘equal treatment of prospective foster parents and children,’ but he concluded that it was not sufficient to ‘justify denying CSS an exception for its religious exercise,’ especially when the city has a system of exemptions.” SCOTUSblog

Here’s our prior coverage of the ACA lawsuit and Fulton. The Flip Side

Both sides are critical of the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act:

It was an audacious ask of the Supreme Court — requesting the justices strike down the entire law despite only claiming that a single provision of Obamacare is unconstitutional. Especially since the provision that the plaintiffs challenged literally does nothing at all… Yet that didn’t stop 18 Republican state attorneys general from bringing this futile effort to kill Obamacare. In the end, they lost because of a simple fact: No one is injured by a law that requires them to pay zero dollars. As Breyer writes, ‘the IRS can no longer seek a penalty from those who fail to comply’ with the requirement to buy insurance. Thus, ‘there is no possible Government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injury.’”
Ian Millhiser, Vox

“This lawsuit was never likely to bring down the whole statute, and to that extent, the outcome today was the right one. Fevered Democratic predictions that Amy Coney Barrett would be the fifth vote to tear down the whole statute were proven to be the fantastical nonsense we always knew they were…

Nobody comes out of this case looking particularly good. The Republican effort, embraced by the Trump Justice Department, to use a too-clever-by-half theory to do what a Republican Congress couldn’t, lost resoundingly. The Democrats’ trumpeted claims that the Court was about to toss the statute were revealed as false propaganda…

“The Obama-era arguments about the essential need for the individual mandate were revealed as a dispensable pretense… But the Court may finally have put an end to a decade of Obamacare cases in which it has contorted law and reason to save the statute, and only bought itself more political pressure and less respect.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

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