ObamaCare Case: Kennedy, Roberts Tough to Read

Chief justice says little, while Kennedy challenges both sides during arguments
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2015 12:04 PM CST
ObamaCare Case: Kennedy, Roberts Tough to Read
A crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court today as the court hears arguments in King v. Burwell, a major test of ObamaCare.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

It's all up to Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts now. In today's arguments before the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell—the case that could decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act—the liberal justices sounded predictably in favor of the law, the conservative justices sounded predictably opposed, and the two wild cards of Kennedy and Roberts left things a little muddy. Chief Justice Roberts, who voted previously to uphold the law, "said almost nothing," reports the New York Times. As for Kennedy, at one point he sounded skeptical of the challenge to ObamaCare, but then quickly acknowledged that the plaintiffs might be correct, reports USA Today.

Some specifics on Kennedy:

  • Washington Post: "If there was a reason for optimism for the Obama administration, it came from" Kennedy. He "questioned whether the challengers' reading of the law—that federal tax subsidies should only be available in the 16 states and District of Columbia that have set up their own insurance marketplaces—would cause 'serious constitutional problems' of coercion."
  • SCOTUSBlog: Kennedy was "very attentive to the consequences of the reading that the petitioners urged. He seemed to realize that state legislators would be in an impossible position under that reading—more or less forced to 'adopt' or 'endorse' the ACA system in order to avoid unmanageable consequences in their states. His plausible conclusion was that Congress either did not intend to put them to that choice, or that the statute shouldn't be read to have done so ..."
  • Associated Press: Kennedy "asked questions of both sides that made it hard to tell where he might come out this time."
(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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