A judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional—but the case is far from over.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, granted a motion for summary judgment Friday in favor of 20 states led by Texas that had filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
Now that O’Connor has ruled, the losing side is sure to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court.
However, as the case continues to wind its way through the legal system, it is imperative that policymakers pursue real health care reform. Obamacare isn’t working for too many American families and individuals slammed with high premiums and few choices. Rather than looking for ways to keep Obamacare in place amid these legal challenges, lawmakers should pursue real solutions.
The Judge’s Reasoning in Striking Down Obamacare
As part of the last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed the financial penalty associated with failing to comply with the individual mandate, effective in 2019.
In 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by the narrowest of margins when Chief Justice John Roberts, providing the deciding vote, devised a novel theory construing the penalty associated with violating the individual mandate as a tax that Congress has the power to levy under the Constitution.
Texas argues that once the penalty is reduced to $0, it can no longer be considered a legitimate tax, and that therefore the individual mandate would no longer have a constitutional leg to stand on.
Moreover, Texas argues, in upholding the individual mandate, the Supreme Court appeared to rely on the argument that Congress considered the individual mandate to be a central—indeed, indispensable—component of Obamacare that is not “severable” from the rest of its provisions, and that without it, the rest of the law should be invalidated.
A group of 17 states led by California are defending the law, arguing that even a tax of $0 is still a tax, and that it was never Congress’ intent to get rid of the rest of Obamacare when it repealed the financial penalty associated with the individual mandates as part of last year’s tax bill.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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