Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy told lawmakers Monday during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing that justices should not worry potential Congressional drama when they interpret statutes, reported Bloomberg.
While Kennedy did not allude to or even mention the King v. Burwell case heard at the beginning of March, his comments left room for interpretation.
[Related Special Report: King v. Burwell Supreme Court ruling: What you need to know.]
At Monday's hearing, when asked about his remarks during the oral arguments regarding Congress potentially coercing states in an unconstitutional manner, Kennedy stated, "We routinely decide cases involving federal statutes, and we say, 'Well, if this is wrong, the Congress will fix it' … We have to assume that we have three fully functioning branches of the government."
During the oral arguments, Kennedy appeared torn. While he sympathized with the plaintiffs' argument, he did express concern that the Affordable Care Act's design created unintended consequences of coercing states into doing something that Congress wanted.
After the oral arguments, it became clear that Kennedy will be the swing vote in the case, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. In light of his recent comments, it's possible Kennedy foreshadowed his decision, suggested Bloomberg. Stripping subsidies from millions of Americans will be a problem Congress and the President must fix.
However, it's possible Kennedy did not even have King v. Burwell on his mind when he made these remarks Monday.
For starters, during the oral arguments, Kennedy repeatedly brought up the case of federalism, leaving many to believe that, above all, he's more concerned with protecting states, reported Slate.
Secondly, as Slate pointed out, the justices' decisions are under lock and key until they are revealed. When speaking about cases, justices cannot hint at how they voted; doing so would be a breach in protocol.
Even amid Kennedy's somewhat vague comments, Twitter-enthusiasts jumped on the opportunity to speculate the case's outcome. "Justice Kennedy basically just announced how he will vote in King and news not good," tweeted Slate contributor Eric Segall.
A decision on the case is likely in June.