Reaction to the SCOTUS ruling Thursday on Obamacare was swift and scathing, indicating deep discontent. Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul, R-Ky., stated that “we have made a big mistake here.” Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., who is also expected to become a presidential candidate, said that the court’s decision means that Republicans and others who oppose the law must redouble their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Even Supreme Court veteran Justice Antonin Scalia reserved the most vehement reaction of his entire career for his colleagues on the court whom he said ignored the rule of law. He sarcastically referred to the majority decision as SCOTUScare.
Scalia wrote the official opinion of the minority while Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the majority. Curiously, during official arguments about the case Roberts did not ask a single question of either Obama lawyers or the attorneys who represented the opposition. Throughout the process of evaluating Obamacare since the law was passed, Roberts has carefully made sure the new law is protected, even if it meant changing the common meaning of words. For example, in the first challenge to Obamacare that came before the court, Roberts stated that the costs and penalties inherent in the law constitute a tax, although Obama lawyers had argued it is not a tax.
Roberts displayed such outlandish verbal calisthenics again today when he twisted the meaning of the key term state in the text of the law. That simple word was enough for Roberts to discover a means to save and protect Obama’s healthcare law.
Late on Thursday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued a statement on the SCOTUS decision during which he identified the areas within the ruling that represent a direct affront to the rule of law and constitutional self government. Fitton charged that Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Kennedy, Ginsberg, and Roberts rewrote the law from the bench in order to save it. None of these Justices nor the entirety of the Supreme Court itself have the authority or power to change a law that has come before it for a decision. Yet this is precisely what they did, according to Fitton.
Further, Fitton provided a timely reminder that Congress still has the power to negate the court’s ruling. Just as Congress voted to create the law, it retains the power to negate it. If Congress pushes a new vote, with a Republican majority in both houses, and if it can find a way to override a presidential veto, then Obamacare can be rescinded, no matter what the Supreme Court did today.
But Republicans have yet another tactic in their arsenal. They can use the rules of Congress to negate Obamacare with a mere 51 vote majority in the Senate rather than the normal 60 votes it takes to override a presidential veto. By using what is known as reconciliation, Republicans will need a simple 51 vote majority to repeal and replace Obamacare.
When Democrats controlled Congress and Harry Reid was Senate Majority Leader, he effectively changed the rules so that Republicans would be prevented from filibustering Obama’s judicial appointments and other personnel, preventing them from taking office. Perhaps Reid should get a taste of his own medicine. In other words, Republicans have an entire arsenal of options and parliamentary rules that can be implemented in order to negate Obamacare.