Healthcare

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare. Again.

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

For the third and hopefully last time, the United States Supreme Court has rejected a conservative legal bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

With an even larger majority than in two previously rulings, the court rejected the challenge on the basis that Republican-controlled states have no legal standing. The plaintiffs sought to invalidate the entire law because the individual mandate is no longer in place, but that's precisely why they have no standing.

The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other Republican-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed in 2010, the rest of the law should fall, too. [...]

Trump’s three appointees to the Supreme Court — Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the states and people who filed a federal lawsuit “have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”

In short, the plaintiffs cannot claim the mandate is unconstitutional if it doesn't apply to them or anyone else for that matter. There is no mandate even if it exists on paper.

Today's 7 to 2 ruling follows two previous rulings of 6 to 3 and 5 to 4 in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts has voted with the majority in all three rulings and I think we can confidently infer that he's sick to death of dealing with it.

This might be the last time the entire law is debated at the Supreme Court, but I cannot say this was the most ridiculous challenge to the law. For my money, that title still belongs to the previous effort to overturn the entire law which was based on the meaning of a single word in a single sentence.