Supreme Court justices split in key challenge to Obamacare subsidies

Supreme Court justices split in key challenge to Obamacare subsidies

Supreme Court justices split along ideological lines Wednesday in questioning during the latest legal battle over the Affordable Care Act, making the outcome difficult to predict.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who saved the act from a constitutional challenge three years ago, this time asked no questions that would betray his thoughts.

If there was a reason for optimism for the Obama administration, it came from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy, a potential swing vote, questioned whether the challengers’ reading of the law—that federal tax subsidies should only be available in the 16 states and District of Columbia that have set up their own insurance marketplaces—would cause “serious constitutional problems” of coercion.

Kennedy told Washington lawyer Michael A. Carvin, representing the challengers, that there was “something very powerful” about the government’s argument that denying subsidies to those in states where federal authorities have set up the exchanges would lead to a host of problems at odds with the goals of the law.

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