Latest 'Obamacare' Court Battle Plays out in New Orleans
10 July, 2019, 04:24
The Supreme Court's conservative majority argued that Congress could not constitutionally order people to buy insurance.
Trump, who has vowed to protect coverage for preexisting conditions despite supporting the lawsuit to unwind the law, has sent mixed signals about when the party will come up with a new health care proposal.
"There is a political solution here", he said, adding that the courts should not be a "taxidermist" for every big-ticket law Congress passes.
The ultimate outcome of the lawsuit will affect millions of Americans, and the repeal of the nine-year-old law could leave up to 32 million people without health insurance by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office report from 2017 about the effects of repealing the ACA.
President Trump and a coalition of state Republicans, led by Texas, are pushing the Fifth Circuit to uphold that decision, setting the table for an explosive Supreme Court battle on the cusp of the 2020 election.
The traditionally Republican states will ask a panel of federal judges in New Orleans to repeal the ACA, seven months after U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor ruled former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law is unconstitutional.
A federal appeals court sympathized Tuesday with Republicans who say Obamacare's "individual mandate" to hold insurance is no longer constitutional, though signaled they're reluctant to decide which parts of the program should fall with it.
In January, after a federal judge in Texas declared the entirety of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, Attorney General Dana Nessel, with the support of and in coordination with Governor Whitmer, filed a motion on behalf of the State of MI to intervene in the lawsuit.
The judges hearing the arguments were 5th Circuit Judges Carolyn Dineen King, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Kurt Engelhardt.
The Senate, which remains Republican-controlled, did not join the case - a fact Engelhardt noted. The Trump administration is not defending the law and has filed arguments in favor of O'Connor's ruling.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives has also been granted intervenor status in the case. United States, was filed in February 2018 by a group of Republican attorneys general and two governors.
But regardless of the end result, the lawsuit - and the potential for it to again reach the Supreme Court - ensures that health care will be a top issue again this election cycle. Engelhardt was nominated by President Donald Trump previous year. Engelhardt questioned whether the judiciary should be "taxidermist for every legislative big-game accomplishment that Congress achieves".
"Texas said 'HA! - you just did something unconstitutional, ' " Letter said.
Numerous points and counterpoints laid out at the hearing have been part of the case since it began. They pressed the Justice Department's attorney, August Flentje, on what would happen if the courts found that the law was unconstitutional.
Legal scholars - including those who oppose the ACA - consider the Texas case dubious.
"Our argument is simple", Becerra said in a statement.
Asked by Elrod to elaborate, Flentje did not.
"There's sort of an 800-pound gorilla that isn't here", he said during the hearing.
In an unusual break with tradition, the Trump administration announced about a year ago that it would not defend the ACA in court.
But in a surprise move in March, the Justice Department said it now agreed with the December ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down. This spring, the administration changed its position mid-appeal, with the Justice Department telling the 5th Circuit it now agrees with the district court that the entire law is invalid. And when the House switched back to Democratic control at the start of this year, it intervened in the case to side with the Democratic states.
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