ObamaCare Faces Another Supreme Court Test With Reinforced Conservative Majority


For the third time since its inception a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act is headed to the Supreme Court, facing the most conservative panel of justices who have sat on the bench in years.

The highest court in the nation will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a White House-backed legal challenge to the landmark health care law, often referred to as ObamaCare.

Democrats made the ACA, and the lawsuit seeking to rule it unconstitutional, the centerpiece of their effort to block the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett last month. During the confirmation hearings, Democrats warned that Barett, whom President Trump nominated to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, would vote to strike down the legislation.

Her eventual confirmation to the court tilted its ideological balance 6-3 in favor of conservatives.

The latest case — California v. Texas, which is based on an earlier lawsuit brought by 21 Republican state attorneys general and endorsed by the Trump administration — argues the ACA was invalidated when Republicans in 2017 eliminated the financial penalty for Americans who don’t buy health insurance with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The court initially upheld the law because of the individual mandate, which required Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine, under Congress’ vast taxing authority. The suit contends that if that part of the ACA is invalid, so is the rest of the law.

Legal scholars have laid out a complicated, murky process with no clear answer as to what will happen to the ACA when the conservative-dominated court considers the law Tuesday.

The Supreme Court may ultimately agree with the Republican states that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. But justices have to address the complex legal concept of “severability:” If one part of the law is invalidated by the court, does the rest of it still stand?

“The court isn’t split on severability the way it is split on s… (Read more)

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