The Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, was designed to provide tax credits only to individuals who purchase health insurance through an “Exchange” established by a state. These tax credits were intended to be incentives for states to create these Exchanges. Nevertheless, many states resisted and refused to create state Exchanges. In response, the IRS issued a rule granting that same tax credit to those individuals who purchase health insurance through Exchanges not established by a state — but by the federal government. Suit was brought and the lower courts sustained the federal government’s position. The U.S. Supreme Court then heard the case.
CLDEF’s amicus curiae brief in support of petitioners argued that the IRS’ actions were at complete odds with the clear meaning of the statutory text, and were entirely outside any power vested in the federal government by the Constitution.
On June 25, 2015, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, again coming to the defense of Obamacare, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the words of the Obamacare law were not controlling, because the Court could understand what Congress really wanted to do. Disregarding the law’s specific rules, the Court overrode the clear text of Obamacare to fulfill what the Court believed to be Congress’s real intent. Thus, the Supreme Court upheld the illegal actions of the Obama IRS.
CLDEF Amicus Curiae Brief (December 29, 2014)
Oral Argument (March 4, 2015) transcript