Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

US Supreme Court rejects Trump-backed challenge to Obamacare

Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act, keeping Obamacare in place Attorney General Bonta Celebrates Supreme Court Decision in California v. Texas — Upholding the Affordable Care Act
Deanna Wagner | 18 June, 2021, 05:07

The decision was authored by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.

Filed by a coalition of states led by Texas, the case challenged the "individual mandate" provision, in which people without health insurance face a tax penalty.

Also left in place is the law's now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty.

They also argued that the rest of the law should be struck down alongside the mandate as the rest of the law can not stand alone. They argued that if Congress meant to get rid of the law then it would have done so in the 2017 tax reform law, but it did not. It would require far stronger evidence than the States have offered here to support their counterintuitive theory of standing. "They have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act's minimum essential coverage provision". They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz).

Beginning with a straightforward denial of standing, Breyer wrote that "n$3 either the individual nor the state plaintiffs have shown that the injury they will suffer or have suffered is "fairly traceable" to the "allegedly unlawful conduct" of which they complain".

A divided Supreme Court previously upheld the mandate in a 2012 decision, based on Congress's power to levy taxes. Therefore, "there is no possible Government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs' injury - the costs of purchasing health insurance", Breyer reasoned.

The lawsuit did not prove how the federal government would enforce the mandate.

Unsurprisingly, the States have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo. They argued that if they expanded Medicaid in MS and the program was dropped by the federal government, the state would be left responsible for providing health insurance to up to 300,000 Mississippians or dropping their coverage.

China launches first crew to live on new space station
Usually, discarded rocket stages reenter the atmosphere soon after liftoff, normally over water, and don't go into orbit. The rocket dropped its boosters about two minutes into the flight followed by the cowling surrounding Shenzhou-12.

The justices essentially opted out of deciding juicier questions of constitutionality and severability. Plus, some "palace intrigue" discussion about whether Alito was denied his chance to write a majority opinion.

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, accused the majority of ducking the constitutional issues that conservatives for years have argued make the federal healthcare overhaul unconstitutional.

The decision is the culmination of a three-year effort by 17 red states to bring down the law. Without the mandate, the challengers said, the law falls apart. The Trump administration's Department of Justice decided against defending the law and sided with the lawsuit, leading California and a collection of 15 blue states to take up the mantle. Republicans argued that the mandate became unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the penalty in 2017, asserting the rest of the law should be struck down as a result. An appellate court agreed that the mandate was unconstitutional but punted on a decision on severability, asking the lower court judge to revisit the issue.

"I think that it's becoming clearer and clearer that. if anybody's going to change the Affordable Care Act, it's going to have to be Congress and not the Supreme Court", he said, highlighting the widening gap in vote tallies: first a 5-4 decision, then 6-3, and now 7-2. "Yet, seven justices chose to avoid the question of the constitutionality by limiting its decision to a ruling on standing".

It marked the third time the court has preserved Obamacare since its 2010 enactment.

Justice Alito's lengthy dissent (in which Justice Neil Gorsuch joined) nearly playfully refers to the case as "the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy" - in which "the Court is presented with the daunting problem of a "tax" that does not tax".

Twenty states including Democratic-governed California and NY and the Democratic-led House of Representatives intervened in the case to try to preserve Obamacare after Mr Trump had refused to defend the law.