The mandate was declared unconstitutional by the Fifth Circuit Court on the grounds that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, having zeroed out the penalty behind the individual mandate, rendered obsolete Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius — specifically that the mandate could be construed as a tax.
The coalition of blue states — led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — filed amicus briefs supporting Obamacare’s constitutionality.
After the Fifth Circuit’s decision, they appealed — filing a writ of certiorari — to the Supreme Court asking the body to consider the case, ideally before the end of this term. SCOTUS has not yet decided whether it will take up the case, only that it will not be taken up this term.
Reacting to the denial of the expedition, Becerra tweeted, “We hope that the Court will grant review of our defense of Affordable Care Act because the lower court’s decision is wrong and creates uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act.”
“The health and wellbeing of millions of our loved ones who rely on the ACA for healthcare is too important. We will do everything in our power to keep fighting for them,” he concluded.
Texas is spearheading the plaintiff coalition of red states arguing that not only is Obamacare’s mandate unconstitutional due to the zeroed-out mandate, but also that the entirety of the law is inseverable from the mandate — and thus, unconstitutional.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s chief counsel, Rob Henneke, is also part of the case — representing two individuals arguing Obamacare has caused them injury.
Henneke called this development “the right decision” by the court and the appeal “a desperate move by Democrats.”
“Yesterday’s decision by the court was not a surprise if you look at the court’s long-standing precedent and it means the case will proceed under the normal, procedural course of action,” Henneke told The Texan.
Henneke further added that the goal of the blue-state coalition, as he sees it, was to expedite the process so that it could be a theme of the 2020 election. The court’s decision, Henneke pointed out, was one declining “to insert itself into the 2020 presidential campaign.”
This denial means the final decision from the nation’s highest court (should they take up the case) will not come until next term at the earliest, which begins in October of this year and runs through late June or early July of 2021 when it typically goes on recess.
If the court further denies the writ of certiorari by the blue-state coalition, then the case will be sent back down to the lower court as was originally delegated by the Fifth Circuit.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.