By a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court leaves the Affordable Care Act standing. But not because they like the law.
Today, the Supreme Court voted not to kill Obamacare because of a typo.
More precisely, it ruled, 6-3, that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t meant to kill itself: that a seemingly innocuous phrase (“established by the state”) should not lead to the implosion of the entire health care system, and thus should be read in context, rather than purely literalistically.
Thus, while media coverage is already calling this a “victory for the Obama administration,” it really is a victory for sensible statutory construction. Which is why the case was 6-3, and the opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts.
Moreover, while conservative and liberal court-watchers are both remarking about the Roberts Court’s “liberalism” that read is, at best, incomplete.
First, let’s remember that in other courts, this case might never have even made it to the Supreme Court in the first place. It began as an enterprising attempt by an obscure conservative policy wonk to poke holes in Obamacare, and the phrase at issue was recently revealed to be a drafting error, cut and pasted from an earlier version.
So, while some may see the Chief Justice’s legacy as twice saving Obamacare, one could just as easily see it as twice saving the Supreme Court.