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Thursday
Jun252015

Justice Scalia May Be Snarky, But He's Also Quite Correct

Justice ScaliaJustice Scalia

The Washington Post's Wonkblog staff, in an article published at 10:33 AM today, says Associate Justice Antonin Scalia "may have already won for snarkiness" in his dissent in the Obamacare case handed down today.

It is amusing that the Post published this mere minutes after the decision was handed down, making it impossible for the Wonkblog staff to have read the entire decision and opinions. I suspect they went straight to Justice Scalia's dissent and read little, if anything, else.

So Justice Scalia wins for snarkiness in the Post's eyes not just for today, but apparently for his entire tenure at the high court.

Regardless, the article is worth reading, as it quotes a page and a half of Scalia's very on-point opinion, saving readers the need to read less perceptive justices before getting to Justice Scalia.

Or you could just read Justice Scala below. If you don;t have time for all of it, read the part at the end I put in bold. Justice Scalia is a good man. We need more like him.

Today's opinion changes the usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act. That, alas, is not a novelty. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, this Court revised major components of the statute in order to save them from unconstitutionality. The Act that Congress passed provides that every individual "shall" maintain insurance or else pay a "penalty." 26 U. S. C. §5000A. This Court, however, saw that the Commerce Clause does not authorize a federal mandate to buy health insurance. So it rewrote the mandate-cum-penalty as a tax. 567 U. S., at ___ - ___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 15 - 45). The Act that Congress passed also requires every State to accept an expansion of its Medicaid program, or else risk losing all Medicaid funding. 42 U. S. C. §1396c. This Court, however, saw that the Spending Clause does not authorize this coercive condition. So it rewrote the law to withhold only the incremental funds associated with the Medicaid expansion. 567 U. S., at ___ - ___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 45 - 58). Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an "Exchange established by the State." This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites. I dissent.

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