Perhaps it’s time to remove blindfold from Lady Justice
The headline read, “Second Federal Court Rushes To Save Obamacare From Devastating Ruling.” Really? When has it become the jurisdiction of the courts to “rescue” legislation from the rulings of another equivalent court?
Allow me to lay some groundwork before explaining exactly why the above headline is so egregious.
A legal precedent is a principle by which law is established by the results of previous legal cases. The reasoning behind this concept is that similar cases should be consistent so as to give similar and predictable results. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “precedent” as a “rule of law established for the first time by a court and thereafter referred to in deciding similar cases.”
Stare Decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedent established by prior decisions. If there is a precedent set by an equal or superior court, then a judge should obey that precedent.
Now to the crux of the matter. HealthCare.gov is the federal exchange that serves residents of the 36 states that did not create their own health insurance exchanges. Low or moderate income enrollees qualify for a subsidy to offset the cost of their health coverage. Approximately 86 percent of all HealthCare.gov enrollees receive this subsidy.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the HealthCare.gov subsidies are illegal because the Affordable Care Act does not empower a federal exchange to offer subsidized coverage, as it does in the case of state-created exchanges. This ruling could lead most of those subsidized customers to abandon their HealthCare.gov health plans because they can no longer afford them without the lucrative subsidies.
About two hours later a second federal court, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that Obamacare subsidies in federal exchanges are legal, contradicting what the D.C. Circuit Court ruled earlier in the day.
Why is this important? The Fourth Circuit Court ignored legal doctrine that predates the country itself. At the time of its Obamacare ruling a precedent had already been set by the D.C. Circuit Court and the Fourth Circuit Court was bound to follow this precedent.
The D.C. Circuit Court is arguably the most important inferior appellate court in the country. The court has jurisdiction over the decisions and rulemaking of many federal agencies of the United States government. Because of this, the D.C. Circuit is often referred to as the second most powerful court in the United States, second only to the Supreme Court.
The Fourth Circuit Court is a federal court located in Richmond, Virginia. It is not nearly as prestigious as the D.C. Circuit. Thus a ruling at the D.C. Circuit would have binding authority over cases being heard at equal or lower courts like the Fourth Circuit.
With all this in mind, how can the Fourth Circuit legitimately over-rule the D.C. Circuit? Exactly! Only the Supreme Court has the authority to overturn the D.C. Circuit Court ruling. The Fourth Circuit ruling is obviously ideologically driven.
As a side note, the Fourth Circuit’s logic in their ruling stated, “(the act) does not demonstrate that Congress intended to limit the premium tax credit to State Exchanges.” Jonathan Gruber, the chief architect of Obamacare because Congress cannot be bothered with writing their own laws, in a 2012 videotape interview described subsidies and state exchanges. He said, ” What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits (subsidies) but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this [Act].”
So much for the Fourth Circuit’s stated reasoning for their ruling. Are they so blinded by their ideology that they can no longer research and read? Each federal judge has five law clerks on their staff to help with research. These clerks all graduated from prestigious law schools and were in the top 10 percent of their classes. If I could find this passage from Mr. Gurber, why couldn’t all these Harvard, Yale and Princeton lawyers? I am sure they could but just chose to play ignorant (not much of a stretch).
Our system of government is broken. This is just another example how the rule of law, that has served this country so well for the past 200 years, is being systematically dismantled by factions who hold positions of power and don’t believe in the protections against tyranny that the Founding Fathers put in place. I for one am appalled at the god syndrome that permeates our judiciary at all levels. They think they can do whatever suits their fancy regardless of what the law states. It is no wonder the legal profession is among the least respected.
The statue of Lady Justice, that adorns almost every courthouse, is blindfolded. This allegory represents the objectivity and impartiality that is supposed to be instilled in our judicial system. Justice is to be served without favor regardless of identity, wealth, position or ideology. As that seems no longer to be the case, perhaps it is time to be honest with ourselves and take off the Lady’s blindfold.
Read Jack Loesch’s web site at www.TorchNFork.info.
He may be reached at: TorchNFork@frontier.com.