Washington – The Supreme Court on Thursday launched a closely watched legal battle targeting the Affordable Care Act, rescuing the landmark healthcare law from the latest efforts by Republican-led states to dismantle it.
The court ruled 7-2 that the Red States and two individuals who brought the dispute do not have the legal capacity to challenge the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance and ordered the case dismissed. . Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were dissenting. Judge Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion of the court.
The Supreme Court did not address the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual tenure or whether it can be separated from the rest of the law, the other two questions raised by states.
“We do not reach these questions of the validity of the law, however, because Texas and the other plaintiffs in this case do not have the standing to raise them,” Breyer wrote.
States, the Supreme Court said, have failed to demonstrate that the individual mandate, “without any prospect of sanction, will harm them by getting more people to enroll in these programs.”
The Supreme Court ruling is a major victory for President Biden and Democrats, who have fought to protect the Affordable Care Act from the many Republicans’ attempts to kill it both through legislation and in court. Mr Biden, who was vice president when Obamacare was enacted, has pledged to expand the healthcare law during his presidency.
In a statement, Biden said the decision “is a major victory for all Americans benefiting from this revolutionary and life-changing law.”
“After more than a decade of attacks on the Affordable Care Act by Congress and the courts, today’s ruling – the third major challenge to the law that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected – [shows] it is time to move forward and continue to build on this historic law, ”the president said.
Former President Barack Obama said the Supreme Court ruling reaffirms that “the affordable care law is here to stay” and pushed for the law to be extended.
“The principle of universal coverage has been established, and 31 million people now have access to care thanks to the law we passed – with millions more who can no longer be denied coverage or be billed for more. because of a pre-existing condition, “Obama said in a statement. A declaration.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the High Court’s ruling, calling it “a historic victory for Democrats”.
“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Americans across the country and Democrats in Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains a pillar of American health and economic security alongside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” he said. -she said in a press release.
The Trump administration backed a coalition of 18 Red states that sought to overturn the law by targeting the individual mandate, which they said was linked to Obamacare and therefore could not be excluded from it. But in February, the new Biden administration informed the Supreme Court that the government had reversed its position in the case and considered the mandate constitutional.
Debates in the case took place remotely in November, a week after the presidential election and amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has left the doors of the Supreme Court closed to the public. The battle marked the third legal challenge to the landmark law, which extended health insurance coverage to millions of Americans and offers protection to people with pre-existing conditions.
This latest dispute challenged the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual tenure, which, as passed, required Americans to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they failed to do so. But Congress removed the financial penalty as part of its tax reform program in 2017.
A group of Republican-led states then filed a lawsuit arguing that, because the fine was $ 0, the mandate was unconstitutional because the change in Congress “made it impossible to fairly interpret” the provision. as a tax, as interpreted in a 2012 law challenge to Obamacare. In this case, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the court in upholding the individual mandate.
The Red States also argued that if the mandate is found to be unconstitutional, the rest of the law should fall.
But a group of 20 states and the District of Columbia, joined by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, argued that the amendment to the law by Congress “altered the terms of the choice presented by [the mandate] – by allowing individuals to decide freely to take out health insurance without having to face any taxation if they do not do so.
After Republicans mounted their legal battle in 2018, a Texas Federal District Judge struck down the law in its entirety as unconstitutional. Then, in December 2019, a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the warrant was unconstitutional, but sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether the rest of Obamacare could s ‘pass.
Democrats feared that the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court – there is a Conservative 6-3 majority – did not bode well for Obamacare’s prospects. But during arguments, Roberts and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by former President Donald Trump, said they disagreed with GOP-led states and believed the term could be separated from the rest of the law.