Read the 7 Most Ridiculous Lines from Justice Antonin Scalia’s Obamacare Dissent

“Words no longer have meaning.”

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APA crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, in March 2015, as the court hears arguments in King v. Burwell.

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On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s insurance subsidies in a 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts. Legal experts had long dismissed the merits of the case, and it even turned out that the plaintiffs had questionable standing.

But to three of the court’s conservative justices, the court’s decision to side with the government is a sign not only that the court is full of partisan hacks, but also that words themselves hold no meaning.

In a blistering 21-page dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia accused John Roberts of abandoning his judicial independence to defend Obamacare at any and all costs. “[N]ormal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved,” Scalia writes.

Just how absurd is it, in Scalia’s mind, that the court upheld the subsidies? Here are his other prime quotes of indignation at the majority’s opinion:

  • “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.'”
  • “[The decision] rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare”.
  • “The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”
  • “You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it.”
  • “Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!”
  • “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of.”
  • “[T]he cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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