A lower court ruling against Obamacare this week has given the Supreme Court's conservative majority the legal rationale it needs to strike down a major provision of the healthcare overhaul, political analyst Dick Morris told Newsmax TV
The question is whether the justices will take the bait, Morris told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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A three-judge appeals panel
in Washington, D.C., ruled 2-1 on Tuesday that the government cannot subsidize coverage purchased through healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace, because the text of the Affordable Care Act says those subsidies must come through individual, state-run exchanges.
The ruling could cripple President Barack Obama's signature legislation by denying subsidies
to millions of healthcare.gov customers whose monthly premiums will skyrocket without government assistance.
Morris said the appeals panel's reasoning may prove irresistible to a high court that in 2012 declined to kill a major Obamacare provision — the individual mandate requiring that everyone carry insurance or pay financial penalties.
"The argument that overturned the regulation ... said, 'It says what it says. [The Affordable Care Act] says that [the subsidy] has to be through a state exchange, and who are we to rewrite that? We're not the Congress. We're the court.' And I think that procedural approach to it — kind of a judicial restraint approach to it — really will appeal to [Chief Justice John] Roberts and to [Justice Anthony] Kennedy, the swing votes on the court.
"Because they're really not making a judgment about Obamacare; they're making a judgment about the [limited] powers of the court," said Morris. "And in a strange way, judicial reticence will sanction judicial activism."
Morris said the appeals court decision is important because it "legitimizes this case and it makes it mainstream rather than just a kooky lawsuit trying to overturn the law."
While another U.S. appeals court, in Virginia, ruled in favor of the federal subsidies on Tuesday, Morris noted that the state of Oklahoma's challenge to the healthcare law is still moving through the judiciary.
Morris also discussed the Republican Senate primary in Georgia, won Tuesday by businessman David Perdue,
who will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the general election.
Neither Perdue nor Nunn has ever held elective office, but both come from political families: Perdue is the son of former Republican Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; and Nunn is the daughter of the late Sen. Sam Nunn, a Georgia Democrat.
Morris said he thinks Perdue will win the race "easily" because Nunn will prove to be too liberal for Peach State voters.
He also said Perdue's defeat of the presumed front-runner — longtime U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston — is "a victory of the ideological movement conservative over the professional politician who is a conservative.
"That attests to the strength, not only of the tea party, but of the impetus behind it," said Morris.
Turning to the confrontation with Russia over violence in Ukraine, Morris said that "Russia's time on the world stage is sharply limited" by its dependence on revenues from gas and oil exports.
He said the United States could hasten Russia's exit by exporting more natural gas to Western European countries that traditionally rely on energy from Russia.
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