President Obama’s appointees to the D.C. Circuit Court will get to re-hear a major Obamacare challenge, after a three-judge panel of the court heard the case and ruled against the administration.
A majority of the judges on the court voted to re-hear the Halbig case, which pertains to whether subsidies can be provided to people who purchase insurance through the federal Obamacare exchanges. Accordingly, a D.C. Circuit panel’s decision that the federal exchange participants are not eligible for subsidies will “be vacated.”
Obama was able to secure a majority of Democratically appointed judges on the court, which is regarded as the most important court in the country next to the Supreme Court, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) pulled the trigger on the nuclear option in the Senate to prevent Republicans from filibustering Obama’s judicial nominees.
“Reid’s power play over Republican opposition in December led to the seating of three Democratic judges on the federal appeals court circuit that serves the District of Columbia,” CNBC suggested the day after the three-judge panel ruled against Obamacare. “The Obama administration is now banking on a Democratic majority created by those judges to help overturn a stunning ruling that threatens a key leg of the Affordable Care Act.”
Oral arguments are scheduled for December. Lawrence Tribe, Obama’s former law professor at Harvard, said he thinks the case could go against the president if it ever reaches the Supreme Court.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”