SCOTUS Decision Day

For better or worse, the Supreme Court will be handing down its decision in the Affordable Care Act cases today. I covered the Supreme Court arguments back in March in a preview post, as well as a summary of the arguments over the applicability of the Anti Injunction Act on Day One, the Constitutionality of the mandate on Day Two, and the issue of severability on Day Three. I also did a wrap-up post on the arguments and the political reaction to the same after the were all over, and discussed the question of the impact of overturning the Affordable Care Act on the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

We’ll also be getting a decision in United States v. Alvarez, a case that asks the question whether someone can be prosecuted criminally for lying about having received a military honor. Alverez had been convicted at trial, but his conviction was reversed by a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and, eventually, in an en banc ruling by the entire 9th Circuit.  The case was appealed to the Supreme Court and, the oral argument was interesting to the extent that many of the Justices seemed to be struggling to find a way to uphold the law without unduly restricting the First Amendment.

There’s also a third decision coming down today dealing with a rather obscure civil litigation issue that I’m fairly certain nobody outside of the parties will be paying attention to.

If you’re interested in following the events of the morning, ScotusBlog will be doing their regular decision day Live Blog starting shortly before 10am (alternate site for the Live Blog can be found here). SCOTUSBlog will also be doing an all-day liveblog with participation from a wide variety of legal analysts.  And, of course, we’ll be covering things here at OTB as warranted.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    The truly insane thing about the healthcare issue is that there is no argument that if Congress had called the “Mandate” a tax + rebate for proof of qualifying insurance, the legal case against it goes away.

    Seriouslt, given that economically there is literally no difference between the the way it is structured now and a clearly permissable tax/rebate scheme, this is all about semantics. The mind reels. This really shouldn’t be a close vote.

  2. The tax argument was rejected out of hand by every court that heard it. Whether Congress had called it a “tax” or not would have been largely irrelevant

  3. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: No. It was rejected because Congress did not call it a tax. It was conceded during argument below that had they called it a tax, it would have mooted the case against the mandate.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    True story: Yesterday it just so happened that we had our annual renewal meeting with our health insurance broker. Of course for obvious reasons since Obamacare was enacted our company’s health insurance premium costs have skyrocketed, like every other enterprise that’s far too insignificant to have gotten a waiver from HHS. We’re not a labor union or a huge corporation.

    So where we stand is that if Obamacare stays on the books we have no choice but to reduce the amount we contribute towards employee premium costs, to increase the waiting period for new hires and flatly to eliminate health insurance as a fringe benefit for certain classes of workers. If the law gets struck down in its entirety, however, we’ll do none of that. Without Obamacare on the books we’ll continue to pay 90% of employee premium costs, we’ll keep the same short waiting period, and we’ll continue to offer health insurance to all full-time employees. There are no other options. It’s really that simple.

    So out of morbid curiosity I asked the broker how many other companies they represent are in the same boat. I was expecting her to say around a quarter of them. She said a majority of their clients are planning the same or similar actions and that from talking to other health brokers that’s the word on the street everywhere, save for big corporate America.

    Irony.

    In any case, it’ll be an interesting ruling I’m sure and then a very interesting slate of reactions. I have to presume it’ll be a 5-4 ruling with Kennedy casting the deciding vote. If the law gets eradicated it’ll be very good news for existing workers and of course a bit of good news for those seeking employment too, in that companies no longer will be so hell bent on keeping themselves under 50 total employees. If the law stays on the books, however, then as a country we’re heading for a disaster of PIIGS proportions.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    “…True story: Yesterday it just so happened that we had our annual renewal meeting with our health insurance broker. Of course for obvious reasons since Obamacare was enacted our company’s health insurance premium costs have skyrocketed, like every other enterprise that’s far too insignificant to have gotten a waiver from HHS. We’re not a labor union or a huge corporation….”

    Then your company has a management problem. Insurance costs are increasing slower than before the PPACA…the curve is being bent. Bad management is not the fault of the PPACA.

  6. SKI says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Tsar – While I’m sure that conversation and the decision-making process that accompanies it took place, I would seriously question the assertion that the rise in premium costs has much of anything to do with PPACA. Did anyone actually articulate what plan design changes are being forced by PPACA?

    I ask because, as a hospital administrator who worked on our own plan design last year, the impact of the coverage mandates on pricing was minuscule compared to the impact of general medical inflation (we keep coming up with more expensive drugs and treatments).

    The cost of insurance plans has been dramatically rising for years. PPACA, or Obamacare if you prefer, has nothing to do with that. There are aspects that hold some hope for bending the cost curve over time but little that would impact commercial insurance rates today.

  7. Ben says:

    Upheld it. Roberts joins the left.

  8. SKI says:

    @Ben: As a tax

  9. mattb says:

    @Ben: Apparently upheld the Mandate as a tax, but did limit the ability to withhold Medicare penalties.

    The entire issue of is a Tax/Not-a-Tax is a thorny issue. And it probably should have been actually called a tax the entire sign.

  10. mattb says:

    From SCOTUS Live-Blog:

    The money quote from the section on the mandate: Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.

    This seems to me to ultimately be a Lincoln dog leg/tail argument.

  11. PJ says:

    There was a reader comment on Talking Points Memo that Scalia’s recent behavior was due to him knowing that ACA would be upheld.
    Seems he was right.

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    In the end, it’s utterly fitting that conservatives and libertarians, who have long styled themselves as somehow the anti-technocrats of the America, were willing to go these lengths about a distinction that was basically that of checking a box on form 38. I mean, what’s the difference between a libertarian and a soulless government employee who scours through records for a sign of nothing more than a misread instruction?

    Not only that, but for all of the distrust of the MSM, the gullible confidence about the ruling based on purely on MSM speculation showed the true colors of so-called sceptics and realists.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Of course for obvious reasons since Obamacare was enacted our company’s health insurance premium costs have skyrocketed

    Hmm. Health insurance premiums skyrocketed under Bush as I remember it. Guess that was Obama’s fault too.