Hold your horses and don't get your hopes up on this one, folks. It may sound like a breakthrough, but it probably isn't.
First, the particulars:
The Obama administration unlawfully paid billions of dollars to insurance providers under the [Una]ffordable Care Act without a funding appropriation from Congress, a federal district judge in Washington ruled on Thursday.
The insurance subsidies were designed to offset discounts that insurers were required to give eligible lower-income Americans under the health care reform law. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said federal agencies could not fund the subsidies through another section of the health care law that allocated money for tax credits.
“Paying out Section 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” Collyer wrote. “Congress authorized reduced cost sharing but did not appropriate monies for it, in the FY 2014 budget or since. Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”
Quite right. Straight out of Article I, Section 1, as a matter of fact. Constitutionally speaking, the POTUS cannot spend money that has not been appropriated by Congress, and he cannot spend money that has been appropriated in a way and for any purpose Congress has not authorized. Why was the Obama Regime doing so? Because of Senator Marco Rubio's deft stripping out of the risk corridor provisions of the UCA that had been designed to perform the same function as this substitute, jury-rigged slush-funding was - bail out the private insurance carriers so that they wouldn't bail on the O-Care cartels before the cartels themselves would have destroyed the private health insurance carriers by the time the risk corridor provision was originally scheduled to be phased out (i.e. in Obama's third term).
I will admit to being pleasantly surprised that there still exists a federal judge at any level that can still perceive even the most rudimentary level of constitutional Original Intent. And this is a feather in the cap of House Republicans' decision to sue the Obama Regime over ObamaCare in lieu of continuing to futiley batter themselves against the brick wall of The One's vetoes of any and every and all repeal and defunding attempt.
However, it will likely be a short-lived reprieve:
[Judge] Collyer stayed her ruling so the administration can appeal the decision.
Leaving the Regime's substitute, jury-rigged, slush-funding in place. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, with its 10-8 Republican(-appointed) majority, is where the case is headed next, its fate highly uncertain depending upon the makeup of the three-judge subpanel and almost even en banc partisan split. This, in case you weren't aware, is why The One has been trying to pack the D.C. Circuit, and why Senator (G)Reid nuked the confirmation filibuster three years ago, for precisely such cases as these, and any other challenge to the malignant Obamunist regulatory dictatorship.
And if the case reached the SCOTUS? Chief Justice Roberts has already cut O-Care two passes, four years ago on the Individual Mandate and last year on the illegality of the federal cartel in King v. Burwell. There's absolutely no reason to believe that he wouldn't make it a hat trick.
Judge Collyer's decision today is akin to a football team scoring a mid-fourth quarter touchdown after having fallen behind 36-0. It averts the shutout, but the game's outcome has already long since been decided.