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How the Supreme Court Could Again Decide the Fate of the Affordable Care Act

— March 4, 2020

Democrats are hoping that the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case will bring the fight over Obamacare back into the public sphere.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case that could decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

According to The New York Times, the court’s decision was in response to a request filed by state- and national-level Democratic officials. Liberal politicians, suggests the Times, are hoping to bring Obamacare back into the pubic eye as the United States gears up for the 2020 presidential elections.

However, following the Supreme Court’s ordinary schedule, the case won’t likely be heard until spring of next year at the earliest.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s acceptance has won praise Democratic litigants. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra thanked the justices for accepting the challenge, saying the Trump administration’s campaign against Obamacare threatens millions of Americans’ healthcare policies.

“As Texas and the Trump administration fight to disrupt our healthcare system and the coverage that millions of people rely upon, we look forward to making our case in defense of the ACA,” Becerra said in a statement. “American lives depend upon it.”

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office is playing a critical role in the lawsuit. Image via Office of Attorney General Xavier Becerra/Wikimedia Commons. Listed as public domain.

Democrats, says the Times, are trying to expedite the case, even as the originating lawsuit remained stuck in the lower courts. They’re worried that President Donald Trump may win re-election. And, with the possibility of at least one justice vacating their seat, the Supreme Court’s composition may be jolted further right if Trump remains in the Oval Office.

This lawsuit is the third major challenge to the Affordable Care Act in recent years. It was filed by Republican legislators, who argued that Obamacare should be rendered unconstitutional. Their argument is contingent upon Congress’s 2017 decision to void the so-called “individual mandate,” which levies a tax penalty on Americans who remained un-insured after the ACA’s passage.

The Trump administration has aggressively supported Republicans, suggesting that Obamacare cannot survive as intended without the individual mandate.

“The federal government cannot order private citizens to purchase subpar insurance that they don’t want, and I look forward to finally settling the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

The argument was lent credence by a federal judge in Texas, who issued a ruling declaring the ACA invalid. But that judge deferred an injunction, opting to postpone the effects until the case is appealed. As the New York Times notes, the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of appeals also declared the individual mandate illegal but refrained from making a call as to whether Obamacare should be scrapped altogether.

Although Democrats lost a petition for the Supreme Court to hear another ACA-related lawsuit, they did succeed in moving this case onto the court’s regular docket. Given the two somewhat contradictory rulings issued by the Texas judge and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, liberals are hoping the justices can provide some clarity.

“The uncertainty created by this litigation is especially problematic because individuals, businesses, and state and local governments make important decisions in reliance on the ACA,” wrote attorneys for several participating states. “Prolonged uncertainty about whether or to what extent important provisions of the ACA might be invalidated makes the choices more difficult, threatening adverse consequences for American families, health care markets and the broader economy.”

POLITICO, in a Monday article, opined that Chief Justice John Roberts will likely break from the court’s conservative majority to uphold the Affordable Care Act.


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