Patterico's Pontifications


Linda Greenhouse: I Am Horrified That the Supreme Court Took Up the Halbig Issue

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

Linda Greenhouse writes a partisan op-ed slamming the Supreme Court for taking the King v. Burwell case, implying that the Court does not take cases absent a circuit split:

Further, the case the court agreed to decide, King v. Burwell, doesn’t fit the normal criterion for Supreme Court review. There is no conflict among the federal appellate circuits. (Remember that just a month ago, the absence of a circuit conflict led the justices to decline to hear seven same-sex marriage cases?) In the King case, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., unanimously upheld the government’s position that the tax subsidy is available to those who buy insurance on the federally run exchanges that are now in operation in 36 states.

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-to-1 the other way, accepting the plaintiffs’ argument that the language of the statute limits the tax subsidies to those who buy insurance through the state exchanges, which only 14 states have chosen to set up. The full appeals court quickly vacated the panel’s judgment and agreed to rehear the case. The new argument was set for next month, and the briefs were already filed. The absence of a circuit conflict and an imminent rehearing by the country’s most important court of appeals would, in the past, have led the Supreme Court to refrain from getting involved.

So no, this isn’t Bush v. Gore. This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect. When the court agreed to hear the first case, there actually was a conflict in the circuits on the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate. So the Supreme Court’s grant of review was not only unexceptional but necessary: a neutral act. The popular belief then that the court’s intervention indicated hostility to the law was, at the least, premature.

Not so this time. There is simply no way to describe what the court did last Friday as a neutral act. Now that the justices have blown their own cover . . .

And she goes on like that.

But the Supreme Court’s rules for granting certiorari don’t require a circuit split. Rule 10 of the court’s (non-binding and non-exclusive) rules says that the court may take a case when “a state court or a United States court of appeals has decided an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this Court.”

I can think of few cases that are more clearly “an important question of federal law.” And the fact is, if the lefties had a majority on the Supreme Court, and if the only case out there ruled against subsidies for federally established exchanges, Greenhouse would scream bloody murder if they denied certiorari.

This is an important case. It affects millions of Americans. That’s why you didn’t see me complaining when the D.C. Circuit granted an en banc hearing (which, by the way, has been put on hold now that the Supremes have taken the case). The federal courts are there precisely to rule on cases with important implications like this — and to do so as expeditiously as possible.

It’s cute to watch Greenhouse pretend to be horrified by the supposedly partisan nature of this action. It reveals (as all her writing always has) her own partisan nature.

This is just further evidence that conservatives are going to win. She does her best to suck up to John Roberts in the piece, as if she believes he deeply cares about her opinion, but deep down she knows a reversal is likely.

When Linda Greenhouse is unhappy about a legal issue, it’s good news, friends.

20 Responses to “Linda Greenhouse: I Am Horrified That the Supreme Court Took Up the Halbig Issue”

  1. Liberal commentary on the machinations of the federal judiciary is reliably fraudulent.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  2. What concerns me the most is that all the Federal circuit courts have been deciding these cases in the wrong direction. Even if the SCOTUS strikes down the subsidies, it is troubling that so many Federal courts could read that language and decide the other way.

    Dejectedhead (393701)

  3. Speaking of blowing one’s own cover: ” “This is Bush v. Gore all over again,” one friend said as *WE* struggled to absorb the news last Friday afternoon.”

    I find myself surprised to concede that the twists and turns since 2009 might actually be useful for public discourse, as the naked emperors reveal themselves all over the place. (Sorry if that gave you a horrific mental image.)

    beachrat (e7113f)

  4. I wish her years of outrage.

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  5. the Supreme Court understands that Reid packed the DC court

    propaganda slut Linda understands this too

    she needs to go to her quiet place

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  6. Interesting how Miss Greenhouse rubs the Supreme Court’s nose in their rules and jumps right past the DC Circuit riding rough over their en blanc rules.

    Mr Smith (be27f6)

  7. Dejectedhead (393701) — 11/13/2014 @ 8:12 am

    Even if the SCOTUS strikes down the subsidies, it is troubling that so many Federal courts could read that language and decide the other way.

    That’s because there is precedent for that.

    Bills are assumed to be written so as to make sense.

    What I think is the case with this bill is that it was actually NOT written to make sense, but to game the CBO score. That is, I think, the big secret.

    It was written so as to hold together through the middle of the next Congress.

    So the Secretary of HHS could start work on the exchanges, but it was not provided even that it would be operated by HHS.

    Sammy Finkelman (dfa011)

  8. “What I think is the case with this bill is that it was actually NOT written to make sense, but to game the CBO score. That is, I think, the big secret.”

    Sammy – The gaming of the CBO score was widely discussed except by Democrats and liberal media(BIRM). Paul Ryan repeatedly embarrassed the left over it. Remember the health care summit? There was no great secret as you are manufacturing after the fact.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  9. #7. Sammy, how does that make any sense though? If judges are assuming the laws inherently make sense, then they aren’t judging anything about the case. If plaintiffs are challenging an interpretation of a law, you’d think the judges would be looking at whether the law was properly interpreted rather than just siding with the Government on every issue.

    Plus, we know from Gruber that the law was specifically crafted to game the CBO.

    In this case though, the law defines “State”, it has sections separating a State created exchange and a federal exchange. Those sections have different numbers for the section. When talking about authorizing subsidies, they call out the specific section number that for the state established exchanges. No precedent should overrule the plain wording like that.

    Dejectedhead (393701)

  10. The thing is, Liberal Intellectuals sincerely and deeply believe that they are entitled to be judged on their INTENTIONS, even when their intentions make no goddamned sense whatsoever. They are OUTRAGED that the world at large has not absorbed their obvious intention of providing excellent health care coverage for less money than previously, and made it happen to matter what rules of economics, or physics, had to be broken.

    The legend of King Canute looks like a cautionary take about the Leftists, but in fact this much maligned King should be an example for them. Rather than actually attempting to command the tide, a deeper examination of his history strongly suggests that he was pulling a sour joke on his flattering courtiers. He knew perfect;y well that he didn’t have command over natural forces, and showed the futility of trying in order to rebuke the fawning parasites of his court who told him he had far more power than he did.

    C. S. P. Schofield (848299)

  11. Regarding the full DC Circuit quickly vacating the panel decision, WSJ reported:

    Such straightforward statutory interpretation fails the D.C. Circuit’s own high standards for en banc scrutiny. As Washington attorney Adam White recently explained in these pages, since the 1990s the full D.C. Circuit has chosen to rehear merely one or two—and sometimes zero—of the 500 or so cases heard every year. The court’s standard for en banc hearings has been that a panel has overturned a D.C. Circuit precedent, which Halbig does not, or if a matter of “exceptional importance” is implicated, historically meaning some constitutional principle. Reading a statute does not rise to constitutional review.

    So it’s rather rich for liberals to complain about the Supreme Court going out of its way to review.

    Amphipolis (e01538)

  12. Another case the Supreme Court is hearing:

    Maryland limits its income tax credit for income taxes paid in other states to the portion of the Maryland income tax that goes to the state government. A Maryland resident earning income out of state pays a higher total income tax on it. Maryland is the only state that does this. Not clear if this only applies to unearned income.

    Sammy Finkelman (ae0b12)

  13. Hey! happyfeet called some lady a propaganda slut! That’s worse than “hoochie”! I demand a net-neutral cacophony of disapproval.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  14. oops that was supposed to be a bubble thought

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  15. Well it would still be a bubble thought-crime, so either way you’re busted

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  16. Propaganda lady of indiscriminate affections, ok?

    nk (dbc370)

  17. There is nothing surprising about liberal judges affirming liberal excesses.

    Neither is a far-left writer in a far-left scandal sheet worth reading.

    Estragon (ada867)

  18. Linda Greenhouse is guilty of “Grubering.”

    Webrider (2356f1)

  19. What really annoys me is when liberals like Greenhouse have the audacity to turn around and then claim — with a straight face — that she and much of the MSM in general isn’t biased, isn’t left-leaning. Some of that is due to people in the NY-DC cocktail circuit deeming it improper or a sign of poor etiquette to be very candid and explicit about the ideological tilt of themselves and others.

    Mark (c160ec)

  20. Mark, are you familiar with the “Carl, that kills people” meme? It fits “journalists”.

    nk (dbc370)

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