Supreme Court’s June Rulings Drive Massive Association Response

On healthcare and same-sex marriage alike, trade group and advocacy voices throughout the association world were working overtime to respond to two of the most prominent Supreme Court decisions in recent memory.

It happens at the end of every June: Momentous Supreme Court decisions made in the final days of the term, some of which will help shape the next political cycle.

And this June, the court handed down two consequential decisions. First, on Thursday, came King v. Burwell, a decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act’s use of subsidies to pay for federal healthcare exchanges. Then on Friday, the court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage around the country. Both decisions were met with a wide array of responses from major associations and advocacy groups. Read on for a roundup of notable reactions.

Supporters of gay marriage rally after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling on Friday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Same-Sex Marriage: Obergefell v. Hodges

In Support

Highlighted take: The American Military Partner Association, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military families and veterans, says that the ruling ensures that its members will have equal access to their benefits. “From burial rights to veteran home loans, today’s historic Supreme Court decision bringing marriage equality to every state in our great nation means that LGBT military families will finally have access to the full federal veterans benefits they’ve earned,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a news release. “Nationwide marriage equality is not just a huge victory for LGBT people, but for America.”

Other noteworthy takes: The advocacy group GLAAD was in a celebratory mood on Friday, with President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis saying that “our nation became a more perfect union by affirming that all people are indeed created equal and justice belongs to everyone.” • The American Psychiatric Association’s president, Renée Binder, said the decision “strikes a blow to inequality and discrimination throughout the nation, and that’s good for Americans’ mental health.” • National League of Cities President Ralph Becker, who is also mayor of Salt Lake City, said that the ruling has many benefits for communities, “from promoting economic security and enhancing physical and emotional well-being, to creating greater stability for families and children.”

In Opposition

Highlighted take: The Republican National Committee’s Chairman Reince Priebus took a somewhat measured take on the issue, noting that members of his party have a “diversity of opinions about marriage policy,” which should be respected. However, he raised concern about what he considered the court’s move to wrest power from the states. “The Supreme Court failed to recognize the states’ constitutional role in setting marriage policy, instead finding a federal role where there is none,” he added. “In doing so, they have taken power away from the states and from the people to settle the relevant issues for themselves.”

Other noteworthy takes: The Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, says that far from resolving the issue the court “supercharged” it “by disenfranchising 50 million Americans” • The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association is advising its members to hold off on conducting marriages to allow for a 25-day period in which states can file appeals against the ruling. • The National Association of Marriage’s Brian Brown says that the association, which played a prominent role in passing California’s Proposition 8, “will work at every turn to reverse” the ruling.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate on Thursday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Affordable Care Act: King v. Burwell

In Support

Highlighted take: American Medical Association President Steven J. Stack sees the ruling as an opportunity for the country to move beyond political debate. “The subsidies upheld today help patients afford health insurance so they can see a doctor when they need one and not have to wait until a small health problem becomes a crisis,” Stack said on Thursday. “The subsidies provide patients with peace of mind that they will not risk bankruptcy should they become seriously ill or injured and experience catastrophic healthcare costs.”

Other noteworthy takes: “With the certainty provided by the Supreme Court’s decision, now is the time to focus on what matters most to consumers—ensuring access to affordable coverage and high-quality healthcare,” says America’s Health Insurance Plans Interim CEO Dan Durham. • American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandra Hassink said of those in the states that were in danger of losing subsidies that “families can now rest assured that their ZIP code does not determine their health insurance options.” • The American Psychological Association applauded the decision that it said makes healthcare more affordable and accessible, including mental health and substance use benefits that health exchanges provide.

In Opposition

Highlighted take: The National Retail Federation focused its comments on the fact that the law will likely go back to Congress. “Now that the court has spoken, it is imperative that Congress seize the opportunity and address the most egregious errors in this poorly constructed law to ease unreasonable compliance burdens and reduce the cost of coverage for employers and employees alike,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a news release. He later added that “there are no more excuses for congressional inaction and political posturing. We urge Congress to seize the moment and fix the healthcare law.”

Other noteworthy takes: The National Restaurant Association’s president and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, noted that certain elements of the act—particularly the definition of full-time work as 30 hours per week—”have placed an enormous amount of undue burden on American businesses, large and small.” The association pledged to find “bipartisan solutions” to the law’s problems. • The National Council of Chain Restaurants, a division of NRF, says that it remains opposed to the law, adding that “reform to our nation’s healthcare system is desperately needed.” • The International Franchise Association credited the court’s decision with highlighting “the statute’s many flaws” and vowed to work to advance legislation that would solve problems created by the law.

(Ted Eytan/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!