Supreme Court appears split in Affordable Care Act case

Affordable Care Act supporters rally in front of the Supreme Court
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over the Affordable Care Act. In King vs. Burwell, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. is defending the law, while Michael Carvin challenges one of its provisions.

The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court's four left-leaning justices supported Verilli Jr.'s arguments. But in order to rule in Verilli Jr.'s favor, either Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. or Justice Anthony Kennedy would also need to side with the solicitor general. The Times notes that during the arguments, Roberts "said almost nothing." Kennedy, meanwhile, expressed concern with both sides' reading of the statute.

"There's some serious constitutional problems if we adopt your argument," Kennedy said to Carvin. The lawsuit's key question is whether the Affordable Care Act prohibits subsidies established by the federal government rather than in exchanges "established by the state." The case focuses on the exchanges run through HealthCare.gov.

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The court's decision is expected by late June. If the justices rule in Carvin's favor, it could end subsidies for about seven million people across three dozen states to purchase health insurance.

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