Nine Justices, Nine Million Lives

Oral arguments in King v. Burwell are tomorrow.

The Fate of Millions of Americans’ Healthcare Rests in the Hands of Nine Supreme Court Justices

Oral arguments start tomorrow for King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case that threatens to strip subsidies away from millions of Americans in more than three dozen states. There is no legal basis for taking healthcare away from millions of Americans, and through this case—the latest chapter in a years-long partisan campaign—the GOP is trying to use the Court (again) to do what they have been unable to do in Congress or at the ballot box: repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Below are some of the most recent comments from lawyers who have studied the law and journalists who have reported on it since the beginning that illustrate just how high the stakes are for this case:

Larry Tribe in The Boston Globe: “Finding for the challengers would require taking a few words in the ACA out of their proper context, ignoring the law’s structure and purpose, and even jettisoning the conservative justices’ own pro-states’ rights views.”

Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker:”[The Justices’] decision in the mean-spirited lawsuit that is King v. Burwell will reflect little on the interpretive schools to which they belong. The Court will have many more chances to define the Constitution for the ages. In this case, though, the Justices’ choice is a simple one: life or death.”

Steven Brill in Reuters: “If a majority of supposedly objective justices decide to ignore the facts and buy [the plaintiffs’] argument, they will have engaged in a breathtaking act of political activism. For those of us who have always regarded our highest court as a national monument to the rule of law, it will be profoundly depressing.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board: “It would be an American tragedy if the court decides to use seven little words to take away a benefit that already is helping millions of working families.”

New York Times Editorial Board: “Whatever legal games the challengers play, this case has never been more than a ginned-up, baseless attack on one of the most important pieces of social legislation of the last generation. The health of millions of Americans hangs in the balance.”

The stakes of this case are incredibly high: millions of Americans could lose their health insurance and close to 10,000 people a year could die.

Here’s what you can do. Tomorrow morning, hundreds of supporters of the Affordable Care Act will rally outside the Supreme Court. If you live in the Washington area, RSVP here to join them in person. If you live farther away, join them with your support for the Affordable Care Act online using the hashtag #DontTakeMyCare.

BOTTOM LINE: Because of a small group of ideological conservatives, the fate of millions of Americans’ healthcare rests in the hands of nine justices. Those justices have the choice to either act as a political arm of the Republican Party or to put patients over politics and uphold the law. Tomorrow is an important chance to tell them to make the right choice.

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