The Supreme Court has rejected the latest constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which means that 31 million Americans won’t lose their health insurance and protections for people with preexisting conditions won’t go away.
Yes, Obamacare has survived again.
This time, the threat was a lawsuit that 20 state Republican officials originally filed in 2018 and that the Trump administration officially supported in court, even though the federal government almost always defends statutes in such litigation.
The ruling was 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the opinion. The court rejected the lawsuit based on “standing,” meaning the plaintiffs could not show an injury that required a ruling on the merits.
At the heart of the GOP lawsuit was an argument that former President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress had inadvertently created a fatal constitutional flaw in the law when, in 2017, they reduced the penalty for not carrying insurance, known as the “individual mandate,” to zero.
Because they had changed the dollar value of the mandate but not its authorizing language, and because a previous Supreme Court ruling had upheld the mandate only as a tax, the GOP lawsuit claimed that the provision had lost its justification on the theory that a penalty of zero dollars can’t really be a tax.
As a result, the lawsuit said, the entire law had to come off the books. Had the Supreme Court agreed, it would have wreaked havoc on the health care system, which has adapted itself to the law’s far-reaching rules and funding arrangements.
It was a nonsensical case from the beginning, as even conservative scholars acknowledged. Among those urging the justices to reject the lawsuit, which came to be known as California v. Texas, were several lawyers who had been architects of previous challenges.
Still, the lawsuit won favorable rulings in two lower courts, each time with Republican-appointed judges issuing the decision.
And although the Affordable Care Act survived two previous existential challenges at the Supreme Court, one of them was a narrow, 5-4 decision with Ruth Bader Ginsburg supplying one of the majority votes.
Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett has since replaced Ginsburg, who died last fall, taking her seat just in time for oral arguments in November.
Barrett didn’t say much during the case that day. But several of her conservative colleagues did, expressing open skepticism of the lawsuit’s core arguments.
That turned out to be a harbinger of the final outcome.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter
Credit: Source link