Texas Tech University

Expert Available to Discuss Supreme Court Decision on Affordable Care Act

George Watson

June 26, 2015

Richard Murphy, the AT&T Professor of Law in the Texas Tech University School of Law, is available to speak about the ruling and its ramifications.

Richard Murphy

In one of the biggest legal victories of President Barack Obama's time in office, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a 6-3 vote, upheld his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, from a challenge regarding the legality of tax credits offered through the health care plan.

Opponents to the law argued in King v. Burwell the wording of the act made tax credits available only to customers who purchased policies through “an exchange established by the state” where customers reside. That would have forced anyone who purchased a plan through the federal exchange ineligible for those tax credits and would have likely forced them to drop their insurance plan through the ACA. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia have health care exchanges.

Richard Murphy, the AT&T Professor of Law in the Texas Tech University School of Law, is available to speak about the ruling and its ramifications. Murphy is a co-editor of an administrative law casebook and co-chair of the Judicial Review Committee of the American Bar Association's Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Session. He also clerked for the Honorable Stephen S. Trott in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Richard Murphy, AT&T Professor of Law, (806) 834-3654 or richard.murphy@ttu.edu

Talking Points

  • More than 6 million Americans have signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act's federal marketplace, HealthCare.Gov. The subsidies offered through that plan reduce premiums for more than 70 percent of participants.
  • The Court's ruling upholds the idea that tax credits will remain available for Americans living not only in the 16 states that offer health care exchanges but for those in the other 34 states who acquired their health care through the federal exchange.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for himself in the majority, joined by justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent, joined by Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.


  • “The Court's 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell, authored by the Chief Justice, recognizes the ACA depends on three major provisions working together,” Murphy said. “Insurance companies can't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions; everybody has to get health insurance; and those who can't afford it will be helped through subsidies.”
  • “Chief Justice Roberts explained that, contrary to the plaintiffs' contentions, Congress expected all three of these provisions to apply equally to persons buying insurance on state-run exchanges or on federally-run exchanges,” Murphy said. “So Californians and Texans, for example, are equally eligible for ACA subsidies.
  • “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
  • “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, referring to the two times the Court has now rejected challenges to the law.