The Oklahoma Suit

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Stuart Taylor Jr. wonders whether the Supreme Court “will have the stomach to resume hostilities” against Obamacare ”based on a legal analysis even lawyers find it hard to follow.” Jillian Kay Melchior calls Oklahoma’s argument “head-spinning” and “complex.” Jonathan Cohn says that the case turns on “some ambiguity in the text of the law.”

The text of the bill allows the federal government to offer tax credits only for use on state-created exchanges. Where’s the ambiguity there? The text of the bill ties certain taxes and penalties to the credits. It follows that if a state doesn’t set up the exchanges, the federal government can’t offer the credits or impose the taxes and penalties in the state. Is that really so complex?

Courts may flinch for political reasons from saying that the IRS is exceeding its legal authority by imposing taxes Congress hasn’t authorized. The case, though, seems pretty straightforward.

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