The judge disagreed.
"Plaintiffs' proposed construction in this case—that tax credits are available only for those purchasing insurance from state-run Exchanges—runs counter to this central purpose of the ACA: to provide affordable health care to virtually all Americans," Friedman wrote in a 39-page decision. "Such an interpretation would violate the basic rule of statutory construction that a court must interpret a statute in light of its history and purpose."Friedman actually read the entire law, giving him the advantage of understanding how it all works. It's hard to see an appellate court that wouldn't reject this challenge as clearly as Friedman did, and there's no indication yet of whether there will be an appeal.
His reasoning? The federal exchanges—which the Obama administration is constructing for 34 states that declined to build their own—"would have no customers, and no purpose" if the challengers' logic were adopted.
"In other words, even where a state does not actually establish an Exchange, the federal government can create 'an Exchange established by the State under [42 U.S.C. § 18031]' on behalf of that state," Friedman wrote.
So ends the last foundational legal challenge to Obamacare. (Well, there is an even goofier one led by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and other Republicans that says the law is unconstitutional because the bulk of it originated in the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts has already turned down an emergency injunction to stop the law on this basis, and it's really, really unlikely that the courts will want to wade into a House-Senate spiff). The remaining challenges hit at specific provisions, like birth control or employer contributions for members of Congress and staff.
The Supreme Court spoke, and the law kicked in on January 1. It's pretty much all over now except for the continued, slowly fading shrieks of the wingnuts.