Sen. Ted Cruz isn’t happy with the Supreme Court. Reacting to the King v. Burwell decision handed down Thursday, the Republican senator from Texas and presidential candidate called the healthcare ruling “judicial activism” and agreed with Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, should be renamed "SCOTUScare."
“As Justice Scalia rightfully put it: Words no longer have meaning,” Cruz, a lawyer who has litigated before the Supreme Court and started his career as a law clerk for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, protested from the Senate floor. “Today’s decision in King vs. Burwell is judicial activism, plain and simple.” Cruz praised Rehnquist's court, a sentiment he obviously does not feel for the court of Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Cruz recruited to the legal team of President George W. Bush in 2000 before Roberts was a justice on the court.
Cruz said that the two landmark decisions -- the first coming in 2012 -- to support the Affordable Care Act were acts of magic on the part of the Supreme Court justices. “The first time the court ignored federal law and magically transformed a statutory penalty into a tax. Today, these robed Houdinis have transmogrified a federal exchange into an exchange, quote ‘established by the state.’ ”
The decision handed down Thursday was a decisive 6-3 ruling. It means that federal subsidies are allowed under the ACA no matter if they are distributed through state-established healthcare exchanges or through the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov. Had the Supreme Court voted the other way, many thought that it could have spelled the end for the healthcare law, as the subsidies help lower-income families making less than $50,000 afford healthcare. Should those subsidies have been taken away, it was expected that those families would drop their plans en masse, cutting a significant pool from the exchanges and raising premiums.
The last major Supreme Court ruling on the ACA came in 2012 when the court ruled 5-4 that individuals could be required to enroll in healthcare or face a fine for abstaining.
Cruz has long been a vocal opponent of Obamacare. In 2013, he led a charge that shut down the federal government and made a national name for himself in the days before the shutdown with a 21-hour filibuster in protest of the healthcare law, during which he read Dr. Seuss’ "Green Eggs and Ham."
However, not everyone was moping Thursday morning. During his victory lap, U.S. President Barack Obama recognized that the ACA hadn’t been a complete success, but that it had been doing its job.
“This was a good day for America,” Obama said. "Let’s get back to work.” And there’s much to do, he said, like improving preventive care, the quality of hospital visits and lowering healthcare costs. “With this case behind us, let’s be clear: We’ve still got work to do to make healthcare in America even better.”