The June 26 editorial “Obamacare survives, again” and the chief justice of the Supreme Court find the phrase “established by the State” in the law to be ambiguous. What a shame Congress didn’t better define it. Oh, wait! It did! And let’s have a look at that definition: “the Act defines ‘State’ to mean ‘each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.’ ”
There is no ambiguity here, no mystery, nothing but plain language. This law was just another in a long line of instances in which the federal government intended to coerce the states into doing something (55 mph speed limit and highway funds, drinking age, etc.). In this case, however, the states called the bluff since the cost of non-compliance fell on individuals rather than on the states.
Were the states negligent in not establishing exchanges? There’s a good argument for that. Was Congress reckless in writing the law? There’s a good argument for that. But there is no good argument that “established by the state” means anything other than what the law itself says it means.
Steven Lent, Arlington
Ruth Marcus missed the point with her claim in her June 28 op-ed column, “Roberts is no partisan jurist,” that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote in the Obamacare decision proves he is not motivated by political considerations. As in his earlier health-care decision, Justice Roberts’s votes are mainly aimed at ensuring that history will remember this as the Roberts court, not the Kennedy court. Both cases would have been decided 5 to 4 with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy providing the key vote. By joining a 6-to-3 majority, the rules allow the chief justice to assign himself as the opinion writer.
Moreover, Justice Roberts relieves the Republicans of the burden of having no shared replacement for Obamacare to offer in the next election. By voting as he did, Justice Roberts bolsters his claim as the court’s leader and the political goal of relieving the Republicans of an electoral albatross.
Lawrence Rosen, Princeton, N.J.
The Supreme Court did the Republican Party a huge favor. The two maps with the June 26 front-page article “Health-care act survives court” were eye-opening: Blue states created their own health exchanges. Red states did not. Their citizens had to rely on the federal health exchange. The red states had the most people receiving federal tax credits, with Texas, Florida and North Carolina leading the pack. The Republican Party should be kissing the feet of the Supreme Court justices for pulling it back from the precipice. Imagine how the 2016 votes would go if the red-state citizens lost the federal tax credits that help pay for their health insurance.
Al Riutort, Newport News, Va.