Supreme Court needs to put cap on executive power

A critical case involving the national health care law “probably shouldn’t even have been taken up” by the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama said this week. Why, it is so obvious what Congress meant in Obamacare that justices should leave the flawed statute alone, he believes.

No. A basic issue that goes far beyond Obamacare is in question. It is simply whether the government should be forced to obey the law – or statutes can be interpreted by the executive branch to decide what they are supposed to mean, regardless of the plain English in their texts.

High court justices are involved because of a stipulation in the law regarding subsidies for some low-income purchasers of health insurance. Obama contends anyone financially eligible for the subsidies should receive them.

But the law states clearly that only those who purchase insurance through state exchanges can receive subsidies. Obama wants to include nearly 6.4 million people who dealt through the federal exchange.

If Obama is allowed to do that, the court will, in effect, open the door for presidents to decide Congress meant something other than what it said in any number of other laws.

The possibilities are worrisome. Ours is supposed to be a government of laws – not presidents with the power to decide what they want the law to say.