July 21, 2019 5:55PM

King v. Burwell Literally Overturned Part of the Affordable Care Act

I have a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post

The July 8 front‐​page article “Court’s ruling on ACA could cost GOP” claimed that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act “twice,” presumably referring to National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius in 2012 and King v. Burwell in 2015.

King v. Burwell did not uphold the ACA. On the contrary, King overturned part of the ACA.

The King plaintiffs challenged the Internal Revenue Service’s unexplained decision to spend funds that the ACA plainly does not authorize it to spend and to impose the ACA’s mandate penalty on millions of Americans whom the plain language of the statute exempts. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. affirmed that “the most natural reading” of the operative statutory language favors the plaintiffs. In other words, the plaintiffs sued to uphold the ACA as written.

The court nevertheless upheld the Obama administration’s rewriting of the statute. In so doing, it overturned part of the ACA.

Note the present tense. The ACA still says the IRS doesn’t have that authority. 

No matter. The ACA is dead. Long live ObamaCare.