The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows the federal government to provide subsidies to individuals who purchase insurance on a federally-run exchange, like in Ohio.

The Chief Justice, John Roberts, wrote for a 6-to-3 majority upholding the original interpretation of the law.

The real fun – and it is fun because the good guys won – is found in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion.  The short version:  Justice Scalia is pissed that the Supreme Court won’t invalidate the Affordable Care Act.


The highlight: Justice Scalia calls the arguments of the Chief Justice ”pure applesauce.”

This, to us, makes no sense – why is he hatin’ on applesauce?

Is Justice Scalia complimenting the Chief Justice or mocking?

We decided to dig into this mystery.  After all, we like applesauce.  Our kids like applesauce.  It’s good stuff, and good for you.  It dates back to England from before the adoption of the Constitution, so Justice Scalia and his originalist legal viewpoint should be down with that.

Don’t forget that Peter Brady loves applesauce with pork chops.


As does Romona’s father in the Beverly Clearly short story, Ramona and the Apples.  Those with young kids might remember reading this passage at bedtime:

Father dropped his paper.  “Something smells good,” he said.  “It smells like applesauce.  I hope so.  There’s nothing I like better than a big dish of applesauce for dessert.”

But we see Justice Scalia identifying with Ramona’s father, not opposed to him.  Just before this passage Ramona’s father complained in grumpy-old-man fashion about bus fares going up.  Seems Scalia-esque.  We picture Justice Scalia as the type of guy who, like Homer Simpson, dismisses reduced bus fares for war widows for the same reason he opposes subsidies for people who can’t afford health insurance —  “Moochin’ war widows.”


Maybe Justice Scalia was referring to “Project Applesauce,” which is some Cold War Era intelligence gathering operation.  But we know Scalia loves intelligence gathering and secrecy – after all, he cites to Jack Bauer.  Once he was reported to defend torture by saying, “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles…. He saved hundreds of thousands of lives . . . Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer?”

Does Jack Bauer eat applesauce?  This webpage suggests the answer is “yes.”  So we keep looking . . .

What about the band, “Project Applesauce?”  You can listen to their “latest single” here:  They seem like nice enough people, even if they haven’t played a date since 2008.

So, really, this is a mystery to us.  Back to the opinion.

Scalia also suggests that Chief Justice Roberts opinion includes “interpretive jiggery-pokery” in order to “endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery.”  In response to the claim that the law was just badly written even though Congress’ intent was clear, Scalia sets up the ultimate straw man test – the Court should only ignore bad drafting to accomplish the apparent statutory intent when there would be “a consequence “so monstrous, that all mankind would, without hesitation, unite in rejecting the application.”

That line, we suggest, gives up the game for Justice Scalia.  He continues to criticize the prior decision upholding the Affordable Care Act – suggesting that “the somersaults of statutory interpretation . . . will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”  But really, Justice Scalia is describing himself.  He simply does not like the Affordable Care Act, and will adopt any crazy right-wing legal theory in order to throw a monkey-wrench into the deal.  This is why he refers to the law as “SCOTUScare.”

Scalia’s deal

This suggests an answer:  Justice Scalia doesn’t really mean “applesauce.”  He probably meant to  write “bullshi&$” but his clerks talked him out of it.  He just can’t see why all humankind has not united in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, just like we all unite behind Jack Bauer and torture.  Right?  Our jurisprudence is so much the richer for this.