Chief Justice Roberts: 'In Every Case We Must Respect the Role of the Legislature, and Take Care Not to Undo What It Has Done'

The role of judicial deference in King v. Burwell.


Credit: C-SPAN

In his June 2012 opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Chief Justice John Roberts invoked the legal principle known as judicial deference or judicial restraint. "It is not our job," Roberts wrote, "to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

Three years have passed and once again the chief justice has invoked judicial deference in a major ruling that saves Obamacare from legal harm. Here is the conclusion to Roberts' majority opinion today in the health care subsidies case King v. Burwell:

[I]n every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress's plan, and that is the reading we adopt.

Back in June 2012, in the wake of the first Obamacare ruling, I wrote the following passage, which I submit is still relevant today:

Many of Roberts' critics will no doubt be tempted to denounce this ruling as an example of judicial activism. But in fact the opposite is true. By employing a method of statutory interpretation designed to give Congress and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Roberts exhibited the hallmarks of judicial restraint….

Today's conservatives frequently complain about the dangers of judicial activism. Perhaps now they'll be more alert to the dangers of judicial restraint.

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  1. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.

    So, like Congress, Roberts didn’t read it.

    1. Improve how? Oh right, it’s only about the Congressional intent.

    2. It’s a fair statement, and true. It has no bearing whatsoever on the reality of the thing, but they’re not being dishonest.

    3. Congressional intent doesn’t just come from the Congress. It also can be pulled straight from the ass of the Chief Justice himself!

    4. Which is Roberts’ PRIMARY MISTAKE – he falsely believes in government angels.

      Congress cannot improve health insurance markets. What kind of nimrod is Roberts, anyway? Someone who never read Milton Friedman, apparently!

    5. Note to John Roberts: there is NO SUCH THING AS A GOVERNMENT ANGEL.

  2. Because deference to the Constitution is just too fucking much to ask.

    1. The Constitution? That 100 year old piece of paper written in ye olde English by a bunch of dead white guys?

      1. Ahem…200 year old piece of paper.

        1. Yeah, but you’re counting in Dead White Men years…

        2. Like, whatevs.

      2. Social signalling slave owners no less!

  3. I posted this in the other thread.

    Congress is in the business of saying what the government can and cannot fine you for, jail you for, and kill you for. If anything requires clear and precise language, it’s that. The stakes couldn’t be higher. But the court just told Congress not to sweat the small stuff. We’ll just figure out this whole use of force thing as go along. No biggie.

    1. Exactly. It’s like a parent giving a 19 year old a joint credit card right before spring break and thinking “meh, nothing bad ever happens in Panama City.”

      1. “Giving power and money to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenaged boys”

        1. Except a teenaged boy won’t threaten to slash your tires if you don’t give him a larger amount of whiskey and a fancier car next weekend.

  4. Watching Obama explain how hard he has worked to repeal the laws of economics, how much we have benefitted from his repeal of the laws of economics, how hard some few evil bastards have fought to keep him from repealing the laws of economics – it just brings tears to my eyes. So many tears.

    1. I do have to wonder, though, why – if low-cost insurance is such a great thing for the old and the sick and the poor – why not free insurance? And why not free insurance for everybody? And why not free houses and food and clothing and flying robot cars as well? Isn’t Obama really the evil bastard here, that he can repeal the laws of economics at will but refuses to do so except in this limited little case?

      1. Oh hush! Pretty soon you’ll be wondering why gods of all stripes expect people to bow and scrape for saving them from the disasters which the same gods created.

        C’mon, you know the answer — mysterious ways, man, mysteriouser and mysteriouser.

  5. This case (and the penaltax) is having the court change the meaning of laws. That’s judicial activism. The dangers of too much judicial restraint would be letting a shitty law stand, not rewriting a shitty law into a slightly different shitty law.

    Calling this judicial restraint is like calling Root an alt-text master.

    1. ^This. It is not ‘judicial restraint’ when the justices argue that the plain text of a law is meaningless and can be held to mean whatever the current administration wants it to mean.

      1. Yeah, and they are only changing the meaning of the law because they don’t like its effect. Twenty-seven states decided not to create exchanges. If it had only been say, Texas and Florida, then Obama would let the law stand as written and argue that people in those two stated were suffering because of the evil Republicans running them.

        1. *states

    2. Came here to say the same thing.

    3. I think this is a point that Richard Epstein also made on many occasions.

    4. Agreed. This is like the worst of both worlds. What an utterly repugnant dereliction of duty by the majority. In the name of “legislative deference” the court has simultaneously abdicated its proper role as a check on the legislative and administrative branches AND expanded their own powers to that of legislative editor.

      1. ^^ What he said ^^

  6. Scalia’s dissent is one of the greatest things I have ever read. It contains the phrases ‘the court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery’ and ‘Pure applesauce.’ He says ‘we might as well just call this SCOTUScare’ and angrily says the court has just held that words have no meaning.

    Scalia missed a truly brilliant career as a polemicist.

    1. DAYUM Scalia!

      “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is
      not established by a State is “established by the State.” It
      is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits
      to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by
      the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to
      include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of
      limiting credits to state Exchanges. “[T]he plain, obvious,
      and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred
      to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the
      exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an
      acute and powerful intellect would discover.” Lynch v.
      Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U. S. 364, 370 (1925) (internal
      quotation marks omitted). Under all the usual rules of
      interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this
      case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to
      yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The
      Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

      1. “The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves
        other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose
        the availability of tax credits on both federal and state
        Exchanges. Ante, at 13?14. It is curious that the Court is
        willing to subordinate the express words of the section
        that grants tax credits to the mere implications of other
        provisions with only tangential connections to tax credits.
        One would think that interpretation would work the other
        way around. In any event, each of the provisions mentioned
        by the Court is perfectly consistent with limiting tax credits to state Exchanges. One of them says that the minimum functions of an Exchange include (alongside
        several tasks that have nothing to do with tax credits)
        setting up an electronic calculator that shows “the actual
        cost of coverage after the application of any premium tax
        credit.” 42 U. S. C. ?18031(d)(4)(G). What stops a federal
        Exchange’s electronic calculator from telling a customer
        that his tax credit is zero? Another provision requires an
        Exchange’s outreach program to educate the public about
        health plans, to facilitate enrollment, and to “distribute
        fair and impartial information” about enrollment and “the
        availability of premium tax credits.” ?18031(i)(3)(B).
        What stops a federal Exchange’s outreach program from
        fairly and impartially telling customers that no tax credits
        are available?”

      2. What gets me more than anything is that the section in question refers back to the section that defines the term “State” to be one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.

        It references a clear definition of State!!!! And the majority just said “Yeah, but fuck that.”

        1. “Yeah, but fuck that.”

          It’s the Court’s new professionalism standard.

        2. Well, fuck them. No wonder why they aren’t respected.

        3. It’s clear what “State” means by the statute’s definition. However, it also says fedgov will establish “such an exchange” in states. If it’s such an exchange, wouldn’t that tend to mean that whatever was said about the state-established exchanges also applied to the federally-established ones?

          If federal law established standards for driver’s licenses, and the states issued licenses under that law, but the law referenced licenses issued by states to the effect that fedgov would also “issue such a license”, and then it said driving would require a license “issued by the state”, don’t you think that would also mean you could satisfy it by a federal license? If not, what would “such a license” mean?

      3. “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is
        not established by a State is “established by the State.”


        1. If a federally established Exchange doesn’t carry the same privileges (which is the reason the exchanges exist, because, after all, they didn’t invent health insurance sales), then what does it mean that fedgov establishes “such Exchange”?

      1. I was going to post the same thing.

      2. Racist? No, it’s obscene language unbefitting the office that man holds. I have no idea whether Scalia permits jiggery-pokery under his roof, but in the public square he is obligated to adopt the demeanor of a senior court official and eschew references to either jiggering or pokery.

        1. STEVE SMITH requires permits jiggery-pokery under his roof…

    2. Roberts is just using the modern definition of literally.

    3. Scalia missed a truly brilliant career as a polemicist.

      I don’t think he did.

    4. Thus far my favorite take down of Scalia’s dissent was done by a caller on NPR’s DIIIAAAANEE RHEEEEEM SSHOOOOWWWW in which the caller inferred that his dissent was hypocritical because of his decision in the Heller case. I nearly had a stroke and crashed my car.

    5. If you want to know how angry Scalia really is, notice that he didn’t “respectfully dissent”. Instead, he wrote “I dissent.”

    6. I’d love it even more if Scalia wasn’t just as guilty as Roberts when it comes to “creative reinterpretation” of blatantly unconstitutional drug cases. Like Gonzales vs. Raich.

      1. Yeah, I would be a Scalia cheerleader is he too didn’t pick and choose which statutes to apply creative interpretation. Raich was a classic example, and in fact where Thomas was the sane one dissenting in rational discourse.

  7. By this logic, the FISA rubber-stamp court must have been exercising massive amounts of “judicial restraint.”

  8. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter

    Uh, how about you tell Congress to do its job properly next time and proofread the damn thing? Jesus Christ, how is a representative democracy supposed to survive if the idiots writing the laws suffer no negative consequences for when they fuck up?

    Same goes for the American people, what incentive is there to demand better quality work from their representatives if the courts are going to fix all the mistakes they make?

    1. This. Since we seem to be stuck with a large, overreaching government, the least the public could do is hold them accountable for their fuckups.

      1. Socialism only works if there are lots of useful idiots.

        1. I not ashamed to say my neighbors are useful idiots.

  9. The Court is an ass. That is all.

  10. His argument is that they are ignoring the plain text of the law in favor of upholding the intent of the law. I want to know why they never apply this logic in other situations… ones where the government is fucking citizens.

    For example, when some state government writes some sloppy-ass law that is intended to protect 8 year-olds from being raped by 35 year-olds and then they use it to prosecute a 17 year-old who sleeps with his 16 year-old girlfriend. When are the courts going to use their judicial deference to say that this prosecution is clearly not the intent of the law, so even if it falls into the letter of the law, we won’t allow it.

    Instead, the principal of judicial deference is that the judicial system requires the people to defer to the government and its fucking mistakes.

    1. Keep in mind in an earlier EPA case, the Court ruled in favor of the EPA’s interpretation of a rule (despite the fact that this interpretation was not the way they had been interpreting the rule for 25 years) based on the idea that it was not the Court’s place to be second-guessing how the EPA interpreted a rule they themselves had made. Today’s decision fits well with that one – but it flies in the face of 200+ years of saying that second-guessing is precisely the Court’s job. If the Congress and the President have both taken oaths to protect and preserve the Constitution and then pass and sign a law they both believe to be Constitutional, how then is it the Court’s place to be second-guesssing that interpretation?

    2. Except those words weren’t included by mistake, they were intended as a deliberate lever to coerce states. They had bearing on the bill’s passage and implementation, which makes Kennedy’s punt all the more galling. He’s treating the matter as if that scrap of language existed in a self-contained state of stasis until being “discovered” by judicial spelunkers.

      1. So true.
        Just imagine if the tables were turned and a State sued to get the subsidies when it had not set up its own exchange.
        The Supreme Court would have ruled that the law was clear and unambiguous, that if that State decided not to set up its own efforts to service its citizens, that it obviously could not take advantage of the federal government’s benefits to them, written into the law.
        The court would have found that the Congress’ intent was clear, to punish States that did not want to play ball.

    3. I’ve known of plenty of cases that were ruled the way you describe that you want. Usually they don’t even get to an appeal.

      1. The trial judge dismisses them.

  11. Roberts is right. The dicta in Marbury is clear as day:

    “The court shall be no more than a convenient rubber stamp for the legislature’s poor judgement.”

  12. I totally agree Mr. Root. The GOP wanted judicial restraint because of the left wing justices back in the 80s. So the brains came up with the concept. Now they have 5 votes. Or should have.

    Judicial activism is the whole point of the SCOTUS. Otherwise, SCOTUS is just part of the executive branch — it interprets Congress’ action so that the Executive can enforce it. A subservient, 2nd tier branch.

    Bring back substantive due process! Invalidate statutes on Constitutional grounds.

    Now, maybe Roberts is just giving the finger to the weak ass Boeherites in Congress. Look, you pussies have done nothing to stop this thing and if we do it then you’ll get attacked over the lack of free stuff and become even bigger pussies.

    I suspect that all Roberts really wants is (a) for Ginsburg to croak out or stroke out and (b) to get some 60% conservative like him to replace her. Then old man Kennedy doesn’t get to call shots anymore and Roberts can do what he wants. Probably a good strategy to not make the SCOTUS a campaign issue on the eve of an election where one side has 11 viable candidates and the other has a corrupt, unlikable, shrillster grandma and an actual commie running.

    1. Read the excellent points above. This isn’t deference; this is a kind of Judicial Activism where the court re-writes laws to rubber-stamp them.

  13. Which makes him a hypocrite on top of being an idiot.

    1. ‘Scuse me; that was in reference to the headline:
      “Chief Justice Roberts: ‘In Every Case We Must Respect the Role of the Legislature, and Take Care Not to Undo What It Has Done'”
      It DID require state exchanges for subsidies and Roberts instead found for what the legislature DIDN’T do.

      1. It DID require state exchanges for subsidies and Roberts instead found for what the legislature DIDN’T do.

        Exactly. Scalia is right. Roberts’ judicial standard is “how can we save Obamacare?”

        1. By any means necessary, Cupcake.

    2. Has Roberts in fact ever ruled to overturn a piece of legislation? If so, it also makes him a liar!

  14. If the government doesn’t have to abide by the laws it wrote, why should us regular people have to? I’ve always been a law-abiding citizen, but no more. I’m going to start doing what’s best for me irregardless of what the law says. At this point it’s every man (and woman) for themselves.

    1. You are probably breaking tons of laws you aren’t aware of. So far you just haven’t crossed the wrong Prosecutor or bureaucrat.

      1. Yes, I’m aware of Three Felonies a Day. But I’m definitely going to step things up. Throughout my life I’ve had many opportunities to enrich myself at the expense of others, but I didn’t exploit them because I thought it was ‘wrong.’ Never again. Time to reclaim some of the wealth that the government has stolen from me…

        1. Have fun with that.

          1. I will. I still owe the IRS $10,000 from last April (and $6,000 to California). No way in hell I’m paying those now. What can they do? I have no assets and have been living off the grid for almost two years. Fuck ’em all!

            1. What can they do?

              Unless you’re working under the table they can garnish your wages. Other than that I don’t know. But you can count on being intimidated and harassed for the rest of your life.

              1. That’ll just give me a good reason to quit the job that I hate. And I’m 51 and the men in my family usually drop dead around 60. Harass away!

            2. Just purely out of curiosity, how are you posting here whilst living off the grid? Public library or something?

              1. I’m living off the grid (in an apartment leased in someone else’s name and using my sister’s home as my mailing address). But I have a real job and that’s how I access the internet, so I’m not totally off the grid. But that can be achieved at any time by simply quitting my job.

                1. I thought “off the grid” meant no wires hooked up to your abode. One of the women at my kid’s daycare lives like that. She’s got a propane powered fridge, solar panels, etc. She smells like patchouli oil as well. Probably to cover the body odor.

                  1. Well, the electricity is also in someone else’s name and I don’t have either cable TV or internet access in my apartment. I can pack my car and be out of there in about an hour. I didn’t plan things this way, it’s just how things worked out after a painful (and costly) breakup in 2012. But I kinda like living like this…

                    1. Trading security for freedom.

                    2. In a sense. But even when I was making six figures and living in a spacious, five-bedroom home in a wealthy suburb, I never felt particularly secure. That feeling was confirmed when my ex decided to leave me and take more than half of everything with her. But it all worked out and I’m happier and more secure now than I was back then. And few things are as dangerous as a man with nothing left to lose. Interpret that as you wish.

                    3. “Freedom’s just another word…for ‘nothing left to lose.'”

                    4. “And nothin’ THAT’S ALL THAT ROBERTS LEFT MEEEEEE!!!!!”

                    5. You could be a Founding Father of Libertarian Island. Trade the car for a boat, a voila – adios

                  2. “Off the grid” means “in the wilderness”. No modern conveniences AND no paper trail.

                    A reverse “Cheers” – No one knows your name

                2. Can they pay you in cash or bit coin?

            3. This is an interesting point.
              They don’t put people in jail just because they owe money do they?
              There is supposed to be a prohibition against debtor’s prison right?

              Hmm. Just tell that to all the fathers in prison for not paying child support, just a debt yet it put them in prison.
              How does that work?

              Well, they will just smile and say they are not putting him in jail for the debt, rather they are putting him jail for violating a court order that says he has to pay the debt.

              If the IRS et al decide they want to sidestep concerns about debtor’s prison, all they have to do is make any debt subject to a court order to pay it.
              Then you will go to jail, not for the debt, but for failure to follow the court order to pay it.
              Cute isn’t it?

    2. What’s best for you, is to limit the number of declarations of criminal intent you make on a message board that is regarded by federal prosecutors as being a hotbed of violent anti-government criminality.

      Also it would be probably be good for you to never again write or say “irregardless”.

      1. “Irregardless” should be illegal.

      2. Huh? It’s a legitimate word. Do you also have a problem with ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’ being used interchangeably?

        1. If you’d said “cromulent” in place of “legitimate” you would have won me over there.

          1. You people and your big words…

          2. Unfortunately he’s literally correct.

            1. I’d say virtually, basically.

        2. Do you also have a problem with ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’ being used interchangeably?

          That depends very much on what I’m doing with the noun the adjective describes.

          1. “Inflammable” means “flammable”? This is quite a country!

        3. But something can be inflames and something can inflame but we don’t say something is irregarded and we certainly don’t hold something in irregard.

          1. Hey, it’s not my fault because I was denied the opportunity to go to college since I used to be white (I now identify as black and embrace all the perks afforded to my people by the all-knowing government).

            1. See, you did it all wrong. You’re supposed to use your race like your gender: fluidly. You’re white when you need to sue a historically black college for discrimination, and you’re black when you need the benefits redounding to minority status. You’re white in the sense that you were conceived by two white people and given birth into a white family by a white woman, but you’re black when that unfortunate fact is discovered by the media and it’s super humiliating.

              1. The world was a simpler, saner place in 1982 and those options weren’t available, and would have never been taken seriously. But we live in a new world where we can literally be anything we want. I say we all take advantage of that new freedom and become a victim like everyone else.

                1. That depends. Are you white, straight, and male? Are you a natural-born American citizen and not, say, a European or Canadian immigrant? Do you have some physical or psychological infirmity that precludes your fully embracing the privileges that inhere to your identity? If not, piss off, oppressor.

                  1. In spite of my white exterior, I’ve always found black women far more attractive than white women. I also enjoy deep-fried southern foods and have been told my genitalia is above average in girth. But now it all makes sense. I’m a black guy trapped in an ugly white body. And I deserve to be treated as such.

                2. We seem to be getting an awful lot of government help lately in that regard.

        4. Valuable and invaluable.

          Irregardless is not an educated word.
          Firstly if it was a word it would mean regardful.

          Second it is the mark of an uneducamated mind. Use it often and you will become a quiet laughing stock in every venue except in a drunken bar.

    3. *You* are not allowed to interpret the law. Only the legislature is allowed to interpret the law, or rather, their stooges on the Supreme Court are allowed to interpret the law as charitably for the legislature as possible.

      1. Oh? And who’s gonna stop me? Bwaa-ha-ha!

  15. Can we replace the stars on our flag with bananas?

  16. RobertsCare? because at this point the Chief Justice has influenced, if not re-written, the three substantive parts of the ACA. And that’s much more work than Obama did signing a bill.

  17. By employing a method of statutory interpretation designed to give Congress and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Roberts exhibited the hallmarks of judicial restraint….

    This isn’t about Congress and the White House. It’s about allowing the IRS to unilaterally rewrite the law.

  18. “It is not our job,” Roberts wrote, “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

    There’s so much wrong with this sentiment that I don’t know where to begin. Forgive me in advance for going all Napolitano on it…

    Does Roberts think all political action reflects the will of the people? Does he think the will of the people is above the law? Does he think “the law” is purely political whim? The guy seems rather convinced that individual rights and liberty are rightfully subservient to democratic and bureaucratic agencies. Which makes him extraordinarily unqualified to practice law but I guess perfectly qualified to be one of the state’s Top Men.

    1. I think his argument is that it’s not his job to overturn Congress’ shitty laws. It’s up to Congress to overturn its shitty laws. If the people want to overturn Congress’ shitty laws, we can elect new representatives who are less shitty than the current ones.

      Nice in theory, now only if the entire electorate wasn’t for sale to the highest bidder.

      1. Nice in theory, now only if the entire electorate wasn’t for sale to the highest bidder.

        It’s not even a nice theory. It’s pure majoritarianism. And I don’t know if it’s worse that he thinks political action necessarily reflects the will of the voters or that he thinks the will of the voters supersedes the individual’s rights to their life, liberty and property.

        1. I can’t wait until he changes his mind on SSM… Which has been voted down in many states- even California.

      2. Nice in theory, now only if the entire electorate wasn’t for sale to the highest bidder.

        Uh, what? Did somebody stuff money in your pocket during the last election?

      3. his argument is that it’s not his job to overturn Congress’ shitty laws. It’s up to Congress to overturn its shitty laws.

        I have no problem with SCOTUS refusing to overturn “shitty laws”. But their raison d’etre is to overturn unconstitutional ones and otherwise to ensure the Executive enforces the law as written by the Legislature.

        This is a case of the Executive (IRS) rewriting the law to suit its purpose and SCOTUS saying that’s cool.

        1. In this cas it overturned the shitty law because they did not like the result.

        2. Maybe to save time, the SCOTUS can just help out in the drafting process, so the underlying motivations of the bill can be properly hidden from the public, and the bill not challenged in court? This a posteriori “SCOTUS copy editor” step seems inefficient.

      4. I think his argument is that it’s not his job to overturn Congress’ shitty laws. It’s up to Congress to overturn its shitty laws.

        That’s sort of difficult if the executive and judicial branch keep changing the meaning of those laws unpredictably.

      5. How about leave Congress’ shitty laws the way they were written in the first place.
        Instead of rewriting them so they are not as shitty as they were originally written — which is NOT the job of SCOTUS as Roberts so hypocritically complains about.

    2. Choosing not to feed legislators and government officials feet-first into a woodchipper is a political choice. Just sayin’.

    3. Roberts in his latest absurd decision is in fact rescuing the people from the consequences of their political choices . The people elected reprasentatives who wrote a law that didnt work out as those people anticipated, so now those reprasentatives and those who elected them must be rescued, by Roberts, from the law they wrote and rammed thru congress . Not a problem, grovelled Justice Roberts , but please dont mention my two lovely blonde haired daughters who I may well have illegally adopted .

    4. It does not even make sense in this case. What the court has done is protect the federal governent from the consequences of the failed power play it tried to run on the states (to the extent that power represented the will of the people and not a particular party’s goals).

  19. John Roberts, FULL RETARD
    Thanks a lot GWB, you fucking dummy.

    1. BOOOOSH! His legend lives on! And we have his brother in the bullpen.

    2. I am going to deliberately outlive him because I want to dance on his grave. He really pisses me off.

  20. So,instead of a country of laws we have a tryanny of the majority (of congress.and the president)somethng that terrified the founders. If the federal government can take over mediical care they can take over any industry.This is how socialism has come to the U.S.A., I can not say what I think of the 6 that voted for this piece of crap,I do not want to be a target of the ‘Justice Department’. They are the wolves,and we are the sheep,gutted for dinner.

    1. If the federal government can take over mediical care they can take over any industry.

      I think that was established during the FDR regime when they took over the whole fucking economy.


  21. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan,

    Never mind that it is now on public record that Congress’s plan was to deny tax credits to states that didn’t set up their own exchanges.

    He just substituted his own plan for Congress’s plan.

    And, no, this is not judicial restraint, really. I define judicial activism as the Court usurping the role of the legislature. This Court has repeatedly rewritten ObamaCare, which is judicial activism, not restraint.

    This is the Supreme Court acting as an ancillary arm of, first, Congress in recreating the individual mandate as a tax, and now the IRS, in redrafting the tax credit provisions to extend them to federal exchanges.

    This is not restraint. This is activism.

  22. I have a reasonable, at least I think so, request. How about we decide if either intentions always matter or they never matter? It seems to me like things would be much easier to figure out if this were the case.

    1. They only matter if the law is ambiguous, by current jurisprudence.
      But if the law is unambiguous, then it is NOT the job of SCOTUS to look to intent of Congress.

      I have a harsher view of the whole thing though, I say if the law is ambiguous then it should be thrown out as not clear and not legally binding or coherent.

      In this case though, the law WAS clear. The court just didn’t like the consequences.

  23. So how much are the subsidies anyway?

    1. IIRC, CNN said $272 per person.

      1. Sounds about right. That’s roughly the amount my premiums increased over the two years after they cancelled my plan.

  24. Funny story, since moving to the big city and being able to find more people with whom to indulge in tabletop gaming, I’ve been introduced to the debate of Rules as Written vs. Rules as Intended. Prevailing wisdom among tabletop gamers is that Rules as Written is given deference because it is not subjective, ensuring that the game is always played the same way, which helps keep things fair.

    Now I want a president who will load up the supreme court with Warmachine players.

    1. That depends heavily on the game and the group. Many online arguments hold that using the Rules As Intended is to be preferred and using the Rules As Written be strictly for competition/monitored games.

      1. I mentioned Warmachine players in particular as that is my primary game right now and every player I’ve met is a huge stickler for Rules as Written.

    2. Many law professors, and others who hold contempt for our Constitution, preach that the Constitution is a living document. Saying that the Constitution is a living document is the same as saying we don’t have a Constitution. For rules to mean anything, they must be fixed. How many people would like to play me poker and have the rules be “living?” Depending on “evolving standards,” maybe my two pair could beat your flush.-Walter Williams

  25. “It is not our job,” Roberts wrote, “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

    You sorry sack of shit.

    IT IS YOUR FUCKING JOB to ensure the other two branches comply with the fucking limitations placed upon them.

    Separation of powers, checks and balances…ever hear those phrases? YOUR FUCKING JOB IS TO BE AT ODDS WITH THE OTHER TWO BRANCHES IN DEFENSE OF THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE!

    Fucking pig!

    1. Heh, I hadn’t read your comment before posting mine, but yeah – this guy’s JOB is to, oh, STRIKE DOWN UNLAWFUL LEGISLATION.

      RobertsLAW: “Murder’s cool now because according to the Ad Hoc Law of 2015, drunk congressmen can beat people to death. Now, they meant with a sack of coins, but since ‘coins’ implies metal and beat is also strike, that means congressmen can shoot people with bullets, as it is form of beating. Oh yeah, we’re bringing back the Dred Scot decision, obscenity laws, and Prohibition because they were laws too. Roberts out!”

    2. Maybe if it gets bad enough, we can go back to state nullification. Not likely, but there’s gotta be a pony somewhere in all this horseshit.

      1. Especially since one can now redefine meaning of words after the fact. When we say “nullification” we really mean “reclassification” or “abjuridificatassication!”

      2. Don’t bet on it.

  26. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.

    What possible justification could there be to believe this?

  27. So basically SCOTUS is the editor of Congress now?

    Also the phrase “inartful drafting” should be thrown at Roberts at every opportunity from now on.

    This decision has to be close to the least intellectually defensible decision that’s come from the Roberts court since he’s been there.

    “inartful drafting”?????? What. The. Fuck.

  28. 1) ACA still won’t win and it still won’t lead to singlepayer. There is no money for that. It’s not a political winner. As long as we keep fighting, we won’t lose. And there are lots of people willing to fight this.

    2) That being said, the USA doesn’t work anymore and hasn’t for a while. It used to make sense, like cable packages, and like cable packages it should probably be unbundled. I just hope we have better than the Republic of Texas.

    1. We?

        1. More like Canada every day. Yay!!

        2. A Canadian with a war-boner self-identifies as an American taxpayer. Please submit proof of payment…

  29. I’m sure Roberts would have upheld all the new deal,and internment,most likely jim crow,what a bastard.

    1. He has upheld the New Deal.

      1. Yup.
        That is what we are becoming, another New Deal era.

  30. I just want to know what dirt the democrats got on Roberts to make him do their bidding. I’m guessing they caught him paying Tony for meth.


    1. many believe his adopted irish daughters were illegally adopted

    2. More like *blowing* for meth.

      /in no way a threat against any member of the government.

  31. It’s up to Congress to overturn its shitty laws.

    We’re fucked.
    What was the last law Congress repealed, the Fugitive Slave Act?
    They’re doing everything they can to bring back the Alien an Sedition Act.

  32. As long as they get the gay marriage question right (again), it’s a wash as far as the social liberal/fiscal conservatives are concerned, right?

  33. The court is unfortunately corrupt, its opinions often the fruits of corruption and as a consequence I would not assist any but Thomas, Alito and Scalia out of the woodchipper hopper until after it had completed the disgestive process (Please understand Mr. Velamoor that this is due entirely to the dangers inherent in woodchippers of course I would never ever wish ill to befall any of our lying and vile but beloved federal masters)

    1. Can we just standardize our disclaimers as PBUH, or some variant? We’re wasting a lot of bits and bytes on these attempts to placate our masters, necessary though it may be.

      1. Tug thy forelock knave! And silence!

  34. According to Roberts’s “principles,” then, the Dred Scot decision, Jim Crow, slavery, segregation, women not voting, prohibition, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the suspension of Habeas Corpus in 1861 – all great laws that should have been upheld!

    They were pretty sweet! Laws are wonderful things!

    Oh, yeah, it was stupid of the SC to strike down any unlawful legislation, according to RobertsLogic (TM), as the law was already made! Yippee!

    So, is it now time for me to look at laws and just make up my own, too?

    1. Slavery was undoubtedly constitutional. The US Const. would never have been adopted otherwise. Dred Scot was only probably wrong, arguably correct. Prohibition was explicitly constitutional.

  35. “It is not our job,” Roberts wrote, “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

    What about when “the political choice” is theft?

  36. And isn’t it a “political choice” to elect a bunch of hacks who can’t craft a law?

  37. That is NOT the role of the U.S. Supreme Court.
    This man has no business there.

  38. Why can’t we just be more alert to them getting it wrong.

  39. “It is not our job,” Roberts wrote, “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

    But that’s precisely what our Constitution is supposed to do, and under SC precedent, the SC is supposed to do. Perhaps ironically, Jefferson’s sentiments on the role of the SC were similar in that he did not think the SC could overrule congress. However, he surely did not foresee that FedGov would consume all components of the national economy and now culture.

    1. Which I can understand – Roberts is differing to Congress on taxes. But then, Robert’s upheld the government’s position on subsidies.

      So, apparently, it IS his job. He was just kidding around before.

  40. “[I]n every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.”

    Besides the Constitution apparently, we don’t need to respect those guys.

  41. What about when “the political choice” is theft?

    It’s not theft. The government already owns everything. They decide what, if anything, the rabble will be permitted to keep.

  42. Roberts is a fucking joke and so is this court. He should resign in disgrace and then go fuck himself.

    1. And if you get subp’ed, you can always use the RobertsLogic and Meaning of Words now. Those meanypants words you used mean whatever you want them to mean after the fact of you saying them!

      Just work for the gov first. Cover your bases, comrade.

  43. During his confirmation hearings Roberts said his job as a (Chief) Justice on the Supreme Court is to call balls and strikes and let the chips fall where they may. He clearly violated that promise.

    Can I call for Roberts’ impeachment without having Reason subpenaed for my personal information?

  44. I stated this elsewhere, but it bears repeating:

    When a law is written in such a way that it doesn’t work well or has unintended consequences, the way to fix it is to have Congress rewrite and pass a new law. The SCOTUS has essentially rewritten a new law under the urging of the POTUS — the two branches of the government who AREN’T supposed to be able to pass laws have combined to effectively do so.

    1. So, why? Roberts could have passed it back to Congress – why didn’t he?

      Who the hell put Roberts on the SCOTUS in the first place?

      1. What does it mean to “pass it back to Congress”? Somebody sued. How do you resolve that person’s case?

        It’s like the people saying gov’t should get out of the marriage biz. Then what do you do when a lawsuit arises involving the question of whether A is married to B? Kick them out of court?

        Are you saying that the provision of PPACA dealing with tax credits should be voided for vagueness? So nobody gets the credits? Or everybody can claim the maximum credit?

  45. How is rewriting the plain meaning of a law not judicial activism? Words are words, and like it or not they must be given their plain meaning, or the entire body of law is suspect.

  46. Here is a question: can the next president effectively reverse this decision by hiring people into the agency in charge that will decide the statute does not allow the federal government to offer credits to non-state exchange participants? Could anyone even challenge that change in policy in court based on the ruling today?

    1. You should know by now that once a government program is in place it NEVER goes away. We’re stuck with this monstrosity. If a future Congress or President decides to do away with it the media will trot out the most pathetic leeches who have been helped by having others pay their medical bills. The gullible public with shriek with outrage and any proposal to end it will die. Face it, we lost…

      1. I believe they can chip(per) away at it, piece by piece. If the GOP had the balls, I mean.

        They’re repealing the medical device tax, because, well, that’s what Republicans do. Bail out Democrats from their idiocy.

        But if the GOP had balls, they could do a couple of things that would neuter Obamacare:
        (1) Medicaid expansion – States “fair share” increases to 50% (versus 10% next year). And state governments can get sue the estates of those “poor blokes” who took Medicaid funds.
        (2) Eliminate all mandates

        Either the Republicans grow a pair and force the Democrats to live with their law or they get rid of it, piece-by-piece.

        No more middle ground.

        1. They’re repealing the medical device tax, because, well, that’s what Republicans do. Bail out Democrats from their idiocy.

          Bail out Democrats? How about bailing out everyone, Democrat or otherwise, from paying a tax? I’ve heard of “worse is better”, but only as reduction to absurdity.

      2. You should know by now that once a government program is in place it NEVER goes away.

        No true. Government can be cut and it has been. Forced bussing was a slog to destroy; the ACA will be the same.

        1. WTF? There’s forced bussing all over the place.

          1. Not like there used to be. Gov’t school choice is now widely in place.

      3. Plenty of gov’t programs have gone away, & not only in the USA. Hell, they even took down the Berlin Wall. That’s a starker example than same sex marriage. If a gov’t can put up the Berlin Wall & then take it down, they can do anything.

  47. Is it just me, or has Robert’s contradicted himself on his previous ruling FOR ObamaCare?

    1. I don’t think so. In each case he’s saying the words of Congressmen don’t count as much as their apparent intentions. If a provision acts like a tax, it’s a tax, protestations of Congressmen that it’s not a tax to the contrary. If Congress wanted to establish subsidized exchanges state by state, then that’s how you resolve the ambiguity of the “established by a state”?”such Exchange” quandary.

  48. Roberts, this latest running from you is why I do not trust government. You’re just piling it on, higher and deeper.

    When you go, you won’t be missed, IMHO.

  49. Chief Justice Roberts: ‘In Every Case We Must Respect the Role of the Legislature”

    So, Mr. Roberts has just nullified the independent role of the judiciary as one of the three branches of the government.

    1. Which is a head-scratcher . . . he contradicts himself from his earlier “pro-” ObamaCare vote.

      What the hell is going on when Scalia seems like the logical one there?

  50. http://starboard.flowtheory.ne…..v-burwell/

    What to do when Congress just writes a shitty law (not even just shitty policy)?

  51. Interesting, he did not undo what the legislature had done. He had just arbitrarily changed it twice. Appears to me he didn’t respect that role but rather assumed it as his own.

  52. Roberts is the examplar of Hayek’s description of a conservative

    “by its [conservatism] very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments”

    And most of the GOP fits this model as well. They will never actually undo anything – no matter how much they shout. And this is exactly the sort of ‘conservative’ who is ‘appreciated’ by progressives/media/etc. The sort of paternal fatherly figure who will occasionally be called upon to fix things that progressives screwed up – and protect those things when threatened. But NEVER to change them.

  53. And I suppose if the legislature told you to go jump in the lake, you’d do that, too!

  54. Ignorance is apparently a valid excuse now.

    We should look on the bright side – Roberts has just declared the US to be an anarchy.

    1. No such thing as anarchy. Only perpetual war or the rule of the mob.

  55. Damon Root farts in the room and quickly leaves for some reason. I submit to you he’s got egg on his face.

  56. Roberts has just etched himself into history as arguably one of the worst justices ever. This is law school 101 FAIL. This guy is fucking horrible. It may be that law professors (90% of whom are progressive cunts are heart) will cheer, but no one will actually be able to explain this with reference to any actual legal principles. This was a “slam dunk” the other way.

    The Supreme Court has long said that it is not their role to re-write bad legislation when it is clear on its face what it says…but what they really mean was to add in a footnote (1 Unless it’s Progressive legislation we’d secretly like.)

    Roberts now joins Chief Justice Taney as worst fucking Justice ever (Taney wrote the majority in Dred Scott).

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  58. I disagree with the premise of this short article.
    When courts read a clearly written and unambiguous statute, they have no authority to go further and try to interpret the intent of Congress.
    That is exactly what Roberts did here, and in the first Obamacare case.
    The court provided what neither the statute or the Solicitor General did, and unilaterally provided what was not there.
    This is the essence of judicial activism, making the law what they want it to be when it was not that in the first place.

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