While I make no pretense of being a legal scholar or of ever having studied “the law”, I do have my opinions and an opportunity to share them. I believe we have witnessed this week, judicial activism at the highest level. In two rulings handed out by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the courts have pretty much said that they no longer respect the letter of the law nor the rights of the separate states.
In the first ruling, SCOTUS ruled in favor of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affirming nationwide subsidies for poor and middle class Americans.
In the 6 – 3 ruling the court was asked to interpret the portion of the law that said that tax credits are authorized for those who buy insurance on marketplaces that are “established by the state.” The questions came because most states, like Nebraska, did not create their own exchanges rather they participated in exchanges established by the federal government.
As of March, about 6.4 million people across the country are reported to have been receiving subsidies to assist in covering the costs of their health care in 34 states, which had not established their own marketplaces. Had the court ruled the other way those individuals would have lost their subsidies worth roughly $1.7 billion a month.
The fact remains that the ACA is a broken and costly program that needs to be fixed. While I am all for AFFORDABLE healthcare for all – this program is anything but that.
The second ruling came today, Friday, June 26th, and SCOTUS ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Governor Ricketts has already said on his Facebook page that, “While 70 percent of Nebraskans approved our amendment to our state constitution that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the highest court in the land has ruled states cannot place limits on marriage between same-sex couples. We will follow the law and respect the ruling outlined by the court.”
As I write this, marriage licenses are already being issued to same-sex couples in Lancaster and Douglas Counties. While I disagree with this ruling, I will respect it, it is now the law of the land but it I fear that this decision has only opened the door to even more questions and concerns. It is my firm belief that SCOTUS waded into unchartered territories that it often avoids, by taking the definition of marriage away from the states.
I think Justice Scalia said it best, in reference to these two cases, he said the cases “will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.” I, like Justice Scalia find this to be unacceptable! I fear these rulings will haunt our nation for decades to come. Much like the case of Roe vs. Wade with abortion, we are destined to learn again that just because a thing is legal it does not mean that it is right.