For a SCOTUS prediction project I’m working on with Dan Katz and Mike Bommarito, I have to code the Health Care Cases using the Spaeth variables in the Supreme Court database.
I chuckled when considering the “Formal Alteration of Precedent” variable:
A “1” will appear in this variable if the majority opinion effectively says that the decision in this case “overruled” one or more of the Court’s own precedents . . . . Note, however, that formal alteration does not apply to cases in which the Court “distinguishes” a precedent. Such language in no way changes the scope of the precedent contained in the case that has been distinguished.
The Health Care Cases would not be a 1 here. No precedents were overruled. That was the entire point! But that is hardly an accurate characterization of what the Court did. Oh well.