Supreme Court's Decision to Hear the Appeal in King v. Burwell Is, in and of Itself, an Unusual Political Act - Families Usa Skip to Main Content
11.07.2014 / Press Release

Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear the Appeal in King v. Burwell Is, in and of Itself, an Unusual Political Act

The U.S. Supreme Court today decided it would hear the appeal in King v. Burwell, the unanimous decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the provision of tax-credit premium subsidies to moderate-income people residing in states where the federal government is running health marketplaces for 34 states. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the consumer health organization Families USA, about this development:

“The Supreme Court’s scheduling of an appeal in this case is, in and of itself, an unusual political act. All of the general guidelines that the Court traditionally uses in determining whether an appeal should be scheduled are totally absent in this case. Three factors make this quite obvious.

“First, there is no serious constitutional issue presented in this case – and, indeed, there is no constitutional issue presented at all. Second, there are no current conflicting decisions by the Circuit Courts of Appeals. And third, appellate arguments are already scheduled in front of two Circuit Courts, the D.C. Circuit and the Tenth Circuit.

“Clearly, therefore, at least four Justices of the Supreme Court have decided to put aside the normal guidelines for accepting a case, and they have decided to jump the usual process about which cases they should hear.

“This is a clear indication that at least some of the Justices are determined to enter the political fray about the Affordable Care Act.

“The Affordable Care Act is built like a three-legged stool. One leg is the prohibition that prevents insurers from denying health coverage to people with a pre-existing health condition. A second leg is the individual responsibility provision that requires people to buy insurance – thereby ensuring that insurance pools are balanced and do not only include older and sicker people. The third leg is the provision of subsidies that make the purchase of coverage affordable.

“If any one of these legs is undermined, the structure of the stool is unstable. That is why theKing case represents the most serious existential threat to the Affordable Care Act

“From a legal standpoint, this is a specious lawsuit. It is surprising therefore that some members of the Court – which is supposed to represent the branch of government that is not supposed to be political – have decided to enter the political fray.”