A ruling for the challengers today could have had effects far beyond the insurance markets and the wallets of people who would no longer receive subsidies: it almost certainly would have carried over into both the political arena – as the people who could no longer afford health insurance directed their frustration at elected officials – and the stock market. But by siding with the Obama administration, the Court effectively maintains the status quo, with the subsidies continuing to flow to low- and moderate-income Americans and, more generally, all three key provisions of the ACA remaining intact. Opponents of the ACA will have to re-focus their efforts to repeal the Act on retaining Republican control of Congress and retaking the White House from Democrats in 2016.
The dissent, written by the irascible Justice Scalia and joined in full by Justices Thomas and Alito, concluded that henceforth the law should be known as "SCOTUScare."
Less well known and covered is a housing discrimination case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. This case also represents a big win for progressives. Here's the New York Times explanation of what was at stake in this case:
The Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a broad interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, allowing suits under a legal theory that civil rights groups say is a crucial tool to fight housing discrimination....
The question in the case was whether plaintiffs suing under the housing law must prove intentional discrimination or merely that the challenged practice had produced a “disparate impact.” The justices endorsed both interpretations.
Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority with all four of the conservative justices in the minority. Civil rights organizations had been so wary of taking this kind of case to this court that two prior cases raising the same question had been settled before they could be heard by the Supreme Court.
The outcome is a big deal but is getting little press because it has been so overshadowed by the Obamacare case. So as we cheer today for the ACA, let's not forget to give some huzzahs for the affirmation of the Fair Housing Act's scope.
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