Scalia Insists Congress Would Act If SCOTUS Nixes Obamacare Subsidies

March 4, 2015 12:51 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Justice Antonin Scalia expressed confidence on Wednesday morning that Congress would act to mitigate the damage if the Supreme Court ruled to invalidate Obamacare subsidies for millions of Americans.

“You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all the disastrous consequences ensue?” he asked Obama administration lawyer Don Verrilli.

The U.S. solicitor general had a sarcastic retort.

“Well, this Congress?”

The audience in the packed courtroom laughed.

“Yes,” Scalia protested, “I think this Congress would act.”

The exchange came during oral arguments in King v. Burwell, when Verrilli pointed out that ruling against the Obama administration would pose hardships for millions of Americans who rely on the subsidies. Such a ruling would also imperil other core components of Obamacare and throw health insurance markets into disarray.

Republican congressional leaders and top committee chairmen have said they’re hard at work on a contingency plan, but they don’t have a bill yet, and they haven’t committed to offering one by June, when a Supreme Court ruling is expected.

Scalia wasn’t shy about expressing his misgivings about Obamacare.

“This is not the most elegantly drafted statute,” he said.

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