Supreme Court Rules on King v. Burwell, Ginsberg Doesn’t Retire, Court refuses to wade into gay marriage

Originally published December 22, 2014

Date: June 2015

(Washington) The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the federal subsidies and state tax credits were limited to those state run exchanges, rather than those that operated through the federally operated exchanges. The Republican appointed justices all joined the majority while the Democratic appointed ones were in the minority. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, joined by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. Dissenting was Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. The Chief Justice wrote for the majority that the statutory language clearly referenced to state run exchanges and if Congress should alter the language, they should act on it. Justice Scalia concurred, noting his long history of looking at congressional intent to determine the intent of the statutory language. In Ginsberg’s dissent, she took a broader view of the statutory language and argued the Court was being needlessly pedantic and pointed in trying to limit the extent of the subsidies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) both stated they would negotiate with the White House on the Affordable Care Act subsidies, and both leaders indicated they would seek reform. For its part, the White House said it would push Congress to send clarifying language on the Affordable Care Act, to ensure the federal subsidies remained in place for those who had already signed up for health care plans. Analysts suggested the states would move quickly, with technical language to comply with the court decision, in order to avoid a situation where people were unable to pay the premiums.

In the end, most analysts called the Court decision a political one, where the conservative majority was sending a signal about their views of the Affordable Care Act. Analysts noted that the state legislatures had been given an out to redefine and reclassify the exchanges as state – based, thus limiting the fallout. Most analysts predicted the states would, in fact, do that. The move by the Court gave conservative opponents a bargaining chip, but not necessarily a debilitating blow against the law. Health and Human Services announced that it would be working with state officials to ensure that the exchanges were appropriately reclassified.

Meanwhile, none of the justices signaled an intent to retire. Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not announce retirement plans, signaling that she intended to stay on the court throughout the end of the Obama presidency. The conservative justices likewise did not announce retirement plans, with most analysts suggesting they were waiting for a Republican President.

Among its final orders of the year was a continued refusal to overturn the lower courts’ ruling that gay marriages go forward in Florida and other states. Analysts suggested the Court was unwilling to take on a battle where public opinion had so markedly shifted in favor of gay marriage.

Paul, Clinton win New Hampshire Primary

Originally published December 22, 2014

Date
: Late January 2016

(Nashua, New Hampshire) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Secretary Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) won the New Hampshire primaries, respectively. Mr. Paul won 34.23% and 89,668 votes while Ms. Clinton secured 52.63% and 132,682 votes. Both winners came into the state as expected winners, and kept it that way. In 2008, Ms. Clinton had won the state in the Democratic primary, while New Hampshire’s libertarian lean boosted Mr. Paul here. New Hampshire had also been among Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.)’s best states in the 2012 Republican primaries. It was also the state that prompted then-Governor Bill Clinton (D-Ark.) to claim the title “the Comeback Kid,” after his 1992 campaign outperformed expectations there.

Ms. Clinton’s campaign had gone into New Hampshire with the intent to put down the insurgent Martin O’Malley campaign by a convincing margin. According to final tabulations, former Governor O’Malley (D-Md.) secured 41.86% and 105,531 votes while others secured 5.51%. Ms. Clinton’s aides, however, did not crow over the results. They indicated that it was progress, but memories of the 2008 nomination struggle lingered over the victory. The campaign had laid the groundwork to replicate their 2008 victory, in case a challenger had caught momentum in Iowa. Ms. Clinton significantly outperformed her 2008 plurality of 39.09%; winning broad majorities across almost every demographic. Her weakest demographic, relatively, were liberals, who split their vote 51-46% for Ms. Clinton. Moderate Democrats strongly boosted the Clinton candidacy with 57% of their votes.

The O’Malley campaign tried to spin the showing as a positive sign that Mr. O’Malley had emerged as the definitive main challenger to Ms. Clinton. Konstantina Raptis, the O’Malley press secretary, defended the O’Malley candidacy to reporters early Wednesday morning, arguing that the governor had presented a liberal alternative and forced Ms. Clinton to embrace more liberal views. The campaign further argued the O’Malley campaign had been disciplined and organized, given its relative poverty to the Clinton campaign.

On the Republican side, Mr. Paul’s aides cheered the results. After their disappointing fourth place showing in Iowa, Mr. Paul’s comeback in New Hampshire provided him with fresh momentum. Moderates made up 32% of the Republican electorate; somewhat conservative 30%, and very conservative 24%; with more liberal leaning voters making up the remainder. Mr. Paul carried very conservative voters and somewhat conservative voters. Second place finisher Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) won moderates and more liberal Republicans on his way to winning 25.61% and 67,087. Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) secured third place with 21.43% and 56,137 votes.

The Paul campaign highlighted the fact that more voters had opted to vote in the Republican primaries than in 2012 and that they had won the votes of younger voters. They also pointed to a strong organization in the state. For their parts, Messers. Christie and Walker gamely said they would fight on.

Fourth place and fifth place finishers Messrs. Jindal (R-La.) and Kasich (R-Ohio) posted a poor showing, and both men were expected to announce their withdrawals from the primary race. Aides to both candidates indicated that they were strong candidates with formidable resumes, but the political oxygen had gone to Messrs. Paul, Christie, and Walker. Aides privately hoped they would be picked for vice president by whoever emerged as the Republican Presidential nominee.

Both parties now face the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, and the New York and Utah primaries.