The US Supreme Court has been in the spotlight recently, and among its rulings on several landmark cases were two – King v. Burwell and Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission – with direct impacts on our state.
King v. Burwell
The Court took on deciding whether the IRS was allowed to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Arizona is one of the 34 states that rely on premium tax credits through HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s health care insurance exchange, to comply with the Affordable Care Act, as there is no state exchange in place.
The case hinged on language of the statute that the petitioners argued provided eligibility for tax credits only to those persons in states with state-operated exchanges. The Court ultimately found this claim to be invalid as the language is ambiguous and stated in the majority opinion that “Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable in every State in the Nation, but those requirements only work when combined with coverage requirements and tax credits.” Had the court not upheld the Affordable Care Act, nearly 127,000 Arizonans would have been left in limbo with no access to health insurance, potentially shifting the costs to business.
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission
Until 2000, the Arizona State Constitution granted the State Legislature the ability to draw congressional districts, but when voters passed Proposition 106 to address gerrymandering concerns that same year, the constitution was amended. The Congressional Redistricting power was removed and instead given to the newly created Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC).
In 2012 the legislature sued the AIRC and argued Proposition 106 violated the Elections Clause of the federal Constitution which gives state legislatures the authority of planning the “times, places, and manner of holding elections.” In the majority opinion, Justice Ginsburg stated that banning the initiative process of lawmaking would do more than stymie the attempts to curb gerrymandering, it would also cast doubt on the other laws that have been adopted by the initiative process. The Court ruled in favor of the AIRC,thus upholding the existing political boundaries.