The Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, preserving the health insurance coverage of millions of people and handing President Obama a major victory. On Thursday, the court ruled 6 to 3 that Obamacare recipients can obtain tax subsidies for health insurance in states that use federal exchanges. Right-wing plaintiffs had argued the law’s wording excluded some 7.5 million people in 34 states who get their insurance through federal exchanges, after their states declined to run exchanges of their own. But writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said: "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them." If the government had lost, millions of people would have been left without the subsidies needed to help buy private insurance. At the White House, President Obama celebrated the ruling.
President Obama: "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. This morning, the court upheld a critical part of this law, the part that’s made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance regardless of where you live. If the partisan challenge to this law had succeeded, millions of Americans would have had thousands of dollars’ worth of tax credits taken from them. For many, insurance would have become unaffordable again. Many would have become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone’s premiums could have gone up. America would have gone backwards. And that’s not what we do. That’s not what America does. We move forward. So today is a victory for hard-working Americans all across this country whose lives will continue to become more secure in a changing economy because of this law."
In a dissent from the bench, Justice Antonin Scalia denounced the majority opinion as "absurd," adding: "We really should start calling this law Scotus-care." Meanwhile, outside the Supreme Court, Obamacare recipients who will get to keep their insurance gathered to celebrate.
Gwen Jackson: "We are thankful today that the court upheld this and realized that affordable care is not just for — I don’t know — it’s for everybody, and it should be. It would have impacted over six million people, had they not agreed to this. But now we don’t have to worry about this anymore."
Despite Obamacare’s expansion of healthcare to millions of people, some 35 million Americans remain without insurance under the patchwork U.S. system.
In another decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing "disparate impact" discrimination lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act. The decision means housing bias lawsuits can proceed in cases where discrimination wasn’t intentional but ended up being the result. A disparate impact would apply to cases such as setting income standards that would disadvantage a racial group. The American Civil Liberties welcomed the decision, saying: "This ruling recognizes the stark reality that housing discrimination, regardless of intent, persists for many Americans."
Here in South Carolina, the first two funerals for last week’s church massacre victims began Thursday in a series of services that will continue today and over the weekend. Loved ones remembered Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a 45-year-old mother of three, reverend and high school track coach; and Ethel Lance, a 70-year-old grandmother who had worked at Emanuel AME Church for more than three decades. The funeral for the Emanuel AME’s pastor, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, also a state senator, will be held today. President Obama will deliver the eulogy.
A predominantly black church has been targeted with arson in Charlotte, North Carolina. Part of the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church burned down after it was deliberately torched on Wednesday. Investigators are looking into the blaze as a possible hate crime.
The standoff between Greece and European creditors continues with a deal still out of reach. Talks have been extended to the weekend, after both sides failed to reach an agreement on Thursday. Creditors want Greece to accept an austerity package in exchange for new loans that would help it avoid a default. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he’s confident the impasse can be resolved.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: "I think that European history is full of disagreements, negotiations and then compromises. So, after the comprehensive Greek proposals, I am confident that we will reach the compromise that will help eurozone and Greece to overcome the crisis."
A Kansas judge has blocked a law that made the state the first in the country to ban a common procedure used during second-trimester abortions. Based on model legislation from the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee, the measure banned doctors from using instruments to remove a fetus in pieces. It allowed exceptions only to save a woman’s life or prevent irreversible damage to a major bodily function. On Thursday, a Shawnee County district court judge ruled the measure would unfairly burden women seeking abortions.
And a group behind so-called gay-to-straight conversation therapy has been found guilty of consumer fraud in a landmark ruling. A New Jersey jury says Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing — JONAH — and life coach Alan Downing "engaged in unconscionable commercial practices." The group must now refund former clients thousands of dollars in fees. It’s the first time a U.S. court has ruled on the fraudulence of LGBT "conversion." The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the verdict "a momentous event in the history of the LGBT rights movement."