Supreme Court appears split in Obamacare arguments

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed bitterly divided during heated arguments over the fate of President Obama’s health care law.
As expected, the court’s four liberal members voiced strong support for the administration’s position. But the administration must almost certainly capture the vote of either Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. or Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to prevail.
The chief justice said almost nothing.
Justice Kennedy asked questions suggesting that he was uncomfortable with the administration’s reading of the statute. But he added that the challengers’ reading posed problems, too. “Your argument raises a serious constitutional question,” he told their lawyer.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued for the Obama administration, facing Michael A. Carvin, who represented the plaintiffs in another challenge to the law that reached the Supreme Court in 2012.

Michael A. Carvin, who was hired to argue in front of the Supreme Court against the subsidies of the Affordable Care Act, represented the plaintiffs in the 2012 challenge to the law’s individual mandate.

The court’s decision, expected by late June, will determine whether roughly seven million low- and middle-income people in some three dozen states will continue to receive subsidies to help them buy health insurance.

Should the court rule that the subsidies were not authorized by the health care law, most of those people would no longer be able to afford insurance. And insurance markets in those states could collapse, imperiling the health care law itself….

By ADAM LIPTAK – New York Times –