June 2015 was a busy month for the U.S. Supreme Court: From gay rights to congressional redistricting, the highest court in the land handed down historic decisions that will change the course of the nation—and the conversations that 2016 presidential contenders are having about it.
Here’s what Brookings experts have told us so far about these landmark cases:
King v. Burwell: The future of the Affordable Care Act
- Republicans will only be able to dismantle the ACA if they win the presidency. Henry J. Aaron calls the 6-3 decision “unsurprising,” and notes that too many facets of the law have become too ingrained for a GOP congress to undo alone.
- The case highlights Congress’s inability to deliver coherent and workable policy. Philip Wallach explores the troubled relations between the three branches of the U.S. government and questions the nation’s ability to “soldier on with only spasmodic contributions from its first branch.”
- Obamacare is not what this case is about. Rather, it’s about what makes laws ambiguous and how statutory language should be interpreted, says Richard Lempert.
- King is actually a big win for the GOP. According to John Hudak, Republicans should be celebrating the fact that they can continue to use Obamacare as a unifying talking point and highly effective fundraising tool.
- The majority opinion matched the dissent in its biting commentary. Kavita Patel shares some helpful background on the case and highlights the best of the judicial spars from both sides of the opinion.
- Obamacare is now the business world’s biggest disruptor. With much of the uncertainty surrounding the ACA removed by the ruling, Alice Rivlin says the law is set to radically disrupt the health care industry in a variety of complex—but predominantly positive—ways.
Obergefell v. Hodges: Same sex marriage in all 50 states
- The conservative marriage narrative has won. Rather than supporting left-liberal “anything goes” views or adhering to the libertarian argument against state involvement in interpersonal relations, Kennedy grounded his decision in the social value of marriage,
writes an emotional Jonathan Rauch.
- This decision is also good for Republicans, politically speaking. An Obergefell ruling in the opposite direction would have put the GOP on the defensive, but the marriage equality mandate now gives socially conservative republicans a strong unifying issue and another fundraising advantage.
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission: Establishing Congressional redistricting commissions
- James Madison would be pleased by the decision. Thomas Mann says America’s fourth president would be happy that the Court upheld Arizona’s use of the initiative to establish an independent redistricting commission, which he touts as “a model of constitutional reasoning and statutory interpretation.”
Michigan v. EPA: The EPA’s power plant rule
- This was not about Obama’s environmental policy, it’s about administrative rules. According to Philip Wallach, the 5-4 finding that the EPA improperly excluded cost considerations from its decision to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted from power plants was really about the technical process by which a government agency can administer rules.