The future of Obamacare depends on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of five key words.

How to Understand the Most Important Case of the Supreme Court Term

How to Understand the Most Important Case of the Supreme Court Term

Law and the Supreme Court justices who interpret it.
Feb. 28 2015 3:30 PM

The Letter of the Law

Two perspectives on the Supreme Court case that could bring the Affordable Care Act to its knees.

Listen to Episode 12 of Slate’s Amicus:

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear King v. BurwelI, a challenge to the Affordable Care Act that threatens to cut out the heart of Obamacare and leave millions of newly insured low- and middle-income Americans uninsured. But unlike the last big challenge to the ACA in 2012, in which the court upheld the president’s signature legislation, King v. BurwelI hasn’t captured the public imagination.


And that’s probably because it’s so technical. The issue in King boils down to whether the 34 states that declined to create state exchanges, and whose citizens are therefore enrolled in the federal exchange, will be unable to get the tax subsidies that are a central component of the ACA. On today’s episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick asks experts on both sides of the case to break it down into plain English, and explain why it matters so much. First, she speaks with Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and one of the lawsuit’s chief architects. Then she hears from Abbe Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School and a co-author of an amicus brief submitted in King v. Burwell.

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This week’s episode is sponsored by HBO. Its new documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” airs Sundays at 8. We’re also sponsored by the Great Courses. Save up to 80 percent off their most bestselling courses when you visit

Podcast production by Tony Field.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus.