Supreme Court says again: Words don't mean what they say

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"Words mean what they say," I wrote in my Washington Examiner column one week ago. But, as I added, not necessarily to a majority of justices of the Supreme Court. The targets of my column were the majority opinions in King v. Burwell and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.

In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts interpreted the words "established by the state" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as meaning "established by the state or the federal government," even though the law itself defines "state" as the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In Inclusive Communities, Justice Anthony Kennedy read the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as not only prohibiting intentional racial discrimination (which it does in so many words) but also prohibiting acts which have a "disparate impact" on persons of different races (which it says nothing about).

The last day on which the court announced decisions gave us another such case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Here the majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, interprets the words "the legislature" in Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution to mean "the legislature or an independent commission approved by the voters in a referendum authorized by the legislature."