Samuel Alito on Health Care
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005)
In dissenting, Justice Antonin Scalia-- joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas--said the majority erred in reading the law's language describing an "Exchange established by the State" to mean "Exchanges 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," Scalia wrote in his own 21-page opinion. "Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the State,'" he said. "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.' 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."
Justice Samuel Alito chastised the lawyer for the federal government, noting that "today you are here telling us it's not a tax. But tomorrow you're going to come right back in here and tell us it is a tax. Which is it?" The federal lawyer stumbled as he tried his best to argue both ways at the same time. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed just as uncomfortable with the government's argument.
Opinions: Roberts wrote majority opinion; Ginsburg, Sotomayor; Breyer, and Kagan concurred in part (noting that the Commerce Clause alone justifies ObamaCare's mandate); Scalia, Kennedy & Alito dissented (on grounds that the individual mandate was unconstitutional); Thomas separately dissented (on grounds that the Commerce Clause is interpreted too broadly).
ALITO: This is obviously one of the most sensitive issues that comes up in our legal system. And with the advances in medical technology, this is going to be a very tough issue for an awful lot of people. In the Cruzan case, the court assumed that there is a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment that a person doesnít want. If somebody gives you medical treatment and you say I donít want it, and they perform an operation on you, thatís a battery under the common law and you can be sued. And then in Washington v. Glucksberg, they addressed the issue of whether there was a constitutional right to assisted suicide, and they concluded that there was not. But they recognized that these were issues that were on the cutting edge of medical technology, on which more empirical evidence might become relevant in the future.
A 5-4 Court decided that federal jurisdiction does not extend to controversies over insurance contracts under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act. Thus, state courts are the proper venue for contract disputes arising between federal employees and insurance companies, which may result in inconsistent outcomes across states.
Empire Healthchoice Assurance sued the estate of a deceased federal employee who received $157,000 in insurance benefits as the result of an injury. The wife of this federal employee had won $3.2 million in a separate lawsuit; Empire Healthchoice claimed reimbursement because the beneficiary was compensated for the same injury by a third party.
Plaintiffs were prescribed a brand name drug for which pharmacists substituted a generic drug, which the FDA had approved under the process federal law authorized for generics. Plaintiffs were diagnosed with a disorder linked to the extended use of the drug. They filed state tort law claims against the manufacturers of the generics, alleging failures to label their products with a warning of known risks. The generics carried the same warnings as the brand name and, the manufacturers argued, since federal regulations required the generics to have the same warnings as the brand name, compliance with a state law requiring different warnings was impossible.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sandra Day O'Connor
John Paul Stevens
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