“Republican Lawyers’ Latest Sneak Attack on Obamacare Is Their Most Brazen Yet”

Simon Lazarus in TNR:

Purposivist disciples may be tempted to seize upon the ACA premium assistance challenges to skewer their philosophical adversaries. Indeed, the day after Judge Griffith’s decision, University of California law professor Richard Hasen put the blame on “unfeeling” Scalian textualism, spotlighting the purposivist “counterargument that courts have an obligation to make laws work … especially these days, when Congress is not working.” But thus broadening the stakes in these lawsuits is a mistake. The better—and accurate—tack is that opponents’ route to interpreting federal exchanges into self-immolation is so hyper-blinkered that it flouts bedrock axioms common toall legitimate interpretational theologies. Justice Scalia has often reiterated that “Statutory construction is a ‘holistic endeavor.”In a June 2014 decision, he referenced the “fundamental canon that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme” adding that a statutory “provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme … because only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law.” As determined by six of the eight judges who have ruled on the matter to date, when judges of any stripe conscientiously fulfill this “duty to construe statutes as a whole,” in the words of one of those judges, Richmond, Virginia Federal District Judge (and Reagan appointee) James Spencer, the ACA readily authorizes premium assistance on all exchanges, state or federal.


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