A federal court has ruled that all of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is unconstitutional based on the individual mandate that requires people to have insurance and how that affects a new tax law.
The ruling came just before Saturday, which is the deadline to enroll for Obamacare for the year.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas found the ACA unconstitutional in a ruling in Texas v. United States, which he issued Friday night, The Washington Post said.
Congress in August set the individual mandate penalty to $0 in new tax legislation, The Washington Times said.
The $0 penalty could affect a 2012 Supreme Court decision finding Obamacare constitutional because Congress has the power to tax, according to CBS News. But if there is no penalty, the tax does not exist, the plaintiffs said.
California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, has fought against the plaintiffs in Texas v. United States. He said in a statement, “Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans. The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”
However, President Donald Trump praised the opinion on Twitter: “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!”
As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2018
The court challenge began when 20 Republican state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the individual mandate in February 2018, HealthAffairs said in a summary of the case. Two other plaintiffs joined later. The site said:
In short, the plaintiffs argue that Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate penalty in December 2017 is fatal to the entire ACA. Because the penalty will be zeroed out beginning in 2019, the mandate will no longer function as a tax. Without its tax function, the mandate is no longer constitutional.
Tennessee is one of the 20 plaintiffs in the case, along with Texas, the lead plaintiff, and Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Judge O’Connor was appointed to the bench in 2007 by President George W. Bush, according to his biography.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.