The latest lawsuit against the often-maligned healthcare law comes after Texas district court judge Reed O’Connor ruled last December that the entire law is unconstitutional following the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
O’Connor’s ruling is predicated off Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius back in 2012.
That case saw twenty-six states file suit against the Obama Administration arguing that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roberts, in an apparent bid to keep the law intact, redefined the individual mandate as a tax for purposes of applicability under the commerce clause, thereby preserving the law from being struck down.
However, with the individual mandate’s penalty currently set to zero, Attorney General Ken Paxton and seventeen other states are arguing that based on the Chief Justice’s own opinion regarding the function of the individual mandate, the entirety of the law should now fall.
The Trump Administration recently lent support to Texas’ challenge, filing a brief in favor of striking down the law.
California is leading a coalition of 21 states in opposition to the Texas challenge.
A decision by the federal appellate court could be reached by the end of the year. Regardless of the 5th Circuit’s decision, the losing side is expected to make an appeal to the Supreme Court.
That could tee up yet another major Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare right before a presidential election.
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