King v. Burwell: Hmmmmm...
2018 MIDTERM ELECTION
Time: D H M S
OK, it's important to stress that this may not mean anything. Perhaps Justice Kennedy was just in a crabby mood at the time, or perhaps it's an indication of his thinking at the moment but he'll change his mind between now and the June decision announcement (the way that Justice Roberts supposedly did a few years ago in the NFIB case (the one where they upheld the law but shot down mandatory Medicaid expansion). Or, perhaps Kennedy will side with the plaintiffs, but Justice Roberts will "play the savior" like he did 3 years ago.
Having said all that, this isn't particularly promising on the face of it:
Here is the transcript from CSPAN closed captions: [ed: I've switched it from ALL CAPS to Sentence Caps for readability]
And we think an efficient responsive legislative and executive branch in the political system will alleviate some of that pressure. We routinely decide cases involving federal statutes and we say, well, if this is wrong, the congress will fix it. But then we hear that congress can’t pass a bill one way or the other. That there is gridlock. Some people say that should affect the way we interpret the statutes. That seems to me a wrong proposition. We have to assume that we have three fully functioning branches of the government, government that are committed to proceed in good faith and with good will toward one another to resolve the problems of this republic.
Hoo, boy. Shorter Kennedy: "Yes, we know there's no chance in hell that this Congress is going to take 5 minutes out of their day to scribble "...or the federal government" onto the end of the sentence in question. We know the mob in charge are a bunch of jackasses, but tough beans: We have to rule on the merits of the case itself, and can't worry about how incompetent they are."
Of course, that still doesn't mean that he plans on siding with the plaintiffs; there's still a good chance that he recognizes the case as being equally full of beans as well, and is just noting that if he sides with the government, it'll be because he legitimately feels the case has no merit on it's own terms, not because it's his job to "save" the law from Republican jack-assery.
Anyway, take it for what you will.