Thursday, June 25, 2015

World's worst judge dissents

Earlier today, the Supreme Court decided 6-3 that the Affordable Care Act's subsidies can not be taken away from people who are unfortunate enough to live in red states because of one line of unfortunate phrasing in the million-word legal document that is the ACA. Naturally, corrupt slovenly bag of rage Antonin Scalia was one of the three who disagreed for totally non-partisan not-at-all-hacky reasons. And he wrote the dissent. Which he apparently red aloud from the bench to preserve his jackassery for posterity.

Here are a few of his gems of legal wisdom.

(I had to copy these from pdf to a Word document to blogger, so I apologize for any weird formatting that results)

This case requires us to decide whether someone who
buys insurance on an Exchange established by the
 Secretary gets tax credits. 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.

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But here we are.

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is
not established by a State is “established by the State.” It
is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits
to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by
the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to
include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of
limiting credits to state Exchanges.

 Hmm, why would they have included those 4 words? Why why why? If only there were some way to reach back through the mists of time and ask the authors of this bill what they intended. But, alas, their intent is lost to history.  Oh, wait. They're all still alive? And some of them actually testified before the Supreme Court? In this very case? But how?

The Court interprets §36B to award tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges.
It accepts that the “most natural sense” of the phrase “Exchange established by the
State” is an Exchange established by a State.
Ante,at 11.
(Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Afford-
able Care Act!) Yet the opinion continues, with no semblance of shame, that “it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.”
Ante, at  13.
(Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the
Affordable Care Act!)

 Okay, first of all, don't try to be funny. You're not funny. And even if you were funny, it seems a bit beneath the dignity of a Justice of the Supreme Court to add snide little asides to his opinion.
Secondly, holy fuck, are you seriously going to pretend that thos four little words override the entire intent of this jillion-word law? Seriously?

The Court claims that “the context
and structure of the Act compel [it] to depart from what
would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
Ante,at 21.
I wholeheartedly agree with the Court that sound interpretation requires paying attention to the whole law, not homing in on isolated words or even isolated sections.
Context always matters. Let us not forget, however, why context matters: It is a tool for understanding the terms ofthe law, not an excuse for rewriting them.

He little thinks how successfully he has pleaded his rival's cause!"

Thank you, Josephine! If anyone is trying to "re-write the law" it's Scalia and his fellow right-wing hacks.

The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state  Exchanges.

 I'm sorry, the next bit of interpretive what now? "Jiggery-pokery?" Hey, dumb it down a little, yer honor, we didn't all go to law school!



You're supposed to be one of the top legal scholars in the nation. You've famously claimed to be too smart for the Supreme Court. Jiggery-pokery? Is that some legal term you thought up whilst tinkerin' with yer tractor out'n the cornfield?

The Court persists that these provisions “would make little sense” if no tax credits were available on federal Exchanges.
Ante,at 14.
Even if that observation were true, it would show only oddity, not ambiguity. Laws often include unusual or mismatched provisions. The  Affordable Care Act spans 900 pages; it would be amazing if its provisions all lined up perfectly with each other.

Um. yeah. That's the whole point. Are you sure you're arguing the dissent?

Compounding its errors, the Court forgets that it is no more appropriate to consider one of a statute’s purposes in isolation than it is to consider one of its words that way.

Exactly! It is not appropriate to consider one i-of the law's words in isolation. Just like you said. But yet, your entire dissent is based on the fact that "they used the word state, so that means state and state only," without any consideration of the other bajillion fucking words in this 900-page law.

Our only evidence of what Congress meant comes from the terms of the law, and those terms show beyond all question that tax credits are available only on state Exchanges

Oh fer fuck sake.
You know, these conservative judges never tire of talking about "original intent." How we must be forever bound by the intentions of the founding fathers, and how only they, the "Constitutional Conservatives" can interpret that intent. But when they have a chance to actually pick up a phone, call Ms Pelosi's or Mr Reid's office and ask what the intent of this law is, suddenly there's just no way to tell except what is written upon this sacred parchment. That's "our only evidence of what Congress meant." What a sad, pathetic hack Scalia is!