Here come da judge

Election Cycle Biggest Prize is The Courts

A federal judge  earlier this month ruled the Obama administration has been improperly funding an Obamacare subsidy program, a huge win for the House of Representatives in a lawsuit against the White House.

Part of the Obama administration’s defense is that the health law was not written well — an argument it also made during prior Obamacare legal battles.

The administration countered it didn’t need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already permanently appropriated by the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits section.

The health care law was designed to reimburse insurers for providing the cost-sharing subsidies to low-income customers who purchased exchange coverage. A second Obamacare subsidy program helping customers pay monthly premiums wasn’t a target in the House lawsuit.

Billions of dollars in “cost sharing reduction payments” under Obamacare are at issue; the subsidies are paid to insurance companies so they can reduce out of pocket costs such as deductibles for low income people on Obamacare plans.

The House GOP argued the administration was unconstitutionally spending money without an appropriation from Congress.

The House argument was that the cost-sharing program was authorized but never appropriated. The House says that there is proof that the White House knew the cost-sharing subsidies weren’t funded and worked around the legislation to implement them.

So Few Yet So Powerful

As of May 2012, historically a total of 3,294 individuals had been appointed to federal judgeships, including 2,758 district court judges, 714 courts of appeals judges, 95 judges to the now-extinct circuit courts, and 112 Supreme Court justices.

This adds up to 3,679 total appointments; a substantial number of appellate judges (including Supreme Court justices) had previously served on the lower court bench.

There are currently 874 authorized Article III judgeships: nine on the Supreme Court, 179 on the courts of appeals, nine on the Court of International Trade and 677 for the district courts.

Although the number of Supreme Court justices has remained the same for well over a century, the number of court of appeals judges has more than doubled since 1950, and the number of district court judges has increased more than three-fold in that period.


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