Should the Supreme Court Care?
Many of you may already know that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide at the end of this month on a big and substantial challenge to the Unaffordable Care Act.
That challenge centers around 4 words written in the law. Those four words are “established by the state”.
The case is King v. Burwell, the argument is around who can receive federal subsides (welfare) under the Unaffordable Care Act. Written in the U-ACA, concerning which participants of which exchanges can receive these subsidies/welfare, are the words “established by the state”. The IRS has been applying those subsidies/welfare to participants in the federal exchanges as well as the state established exchanges.
Thirty-four states participate in the federal exchanges, all are receiving these subsides/welfare payments from our government. Some of these subsides/welfare payments cover 75% of the premium.
According to an article by the AP, this decision could affect 7 to 9 million people currently receiving these subsides/welfare payments.
What I find interesting is the question posed by the author of the AP article Mark Sherman. He asked the following question in his piece “would the court take away a benefit from so many people? Should the justices even consider such consequences?”
My thought was; should the court even take into consideration the effect of their ruling on the citizens of the U.S.?
Shouldn’t they look at only the written words of the law?
Should we now ask Supreme Court Justice to be concerned about laws passed by Congress that are written badly?
Should judges look at intent of the laws or what was actually written in them?
Two schools of thoughts are reported in the AP piece:
One is that the Supreme Court should not only look only at what Congress actually wrote into the law but what they believe the intent of the authors was.
Ronald Cass, the former dean of the Boston University law school was quoted in the article saying “When the court is interpreting a text like it’s doing in this case, then it really is not in the business of looking at consequences,” if you have a result that seems to be a bad one, that’s for the political branches to say, not for the court to say.”
The second school of thought is the court must look at the intent not just the words. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, believes a law’s “words sometimes are not clear enough to resolve a case, especially when read in isolation. Context matters, and the real-world consequences of a law are part of that context”.
What do you think matters?
Should judges read intent in law and not just words, and if the answer is yes how do you read intent?
Could you imagine the consequences of this ruling if intent is to be considered? Contract law could be thrown into a whirlwind of litigation.
Let’s discuss this today on my show The Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.
Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.