WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare, the health insurance program that helped fuel the Tea Party movement and ultimately his own candidacy.
If Trump couldn’t get Congress to do away with the law – and he couldn’t, even with Republicans controlling both houses – he would choose Supreme Court justices who would declare Obamacare unconstitutional.
“If I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush’s nominated John Roberts on Obamacare,” Trump tweeted in 2015, referring to the decision written by Roberts that kept the mandate in law for Americans to be. ‘buy health insurance.
But two of the three lawyers Trump picked for the tribunal – Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – voted with Roberts in a 7-2 majority on Thursday to refuse to run for a group of conservative states that claimed that the law was detrimental to them. It was a blow – perhaps decisive – against the political right’s long struggle against Obamacare and a sign of the limit of Trump’s influence on the judges he appointed.
In the first hours after the decision, Trump greeted the news with the deafening silence of defeat.
And as President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress rushed to release statements praising the decision, most Republicans have followed Trump’s lead in refusing to give it special attention.
Rather than speaking individually, Republican House leaders issued a joint press release. Breaking with Trump’s style, they refrained from attacking the court or its ruling while stressing their distaste for Obamacare, which is officially titled the Affordable Care Act.
“While the Supreme Court today ruled that states lack standing to challenge the warrant, the ruling does not change the fact that Obamacare broke promises and harms hard-working American families.” said Kevin McCarthy, Parliamentary Minority Leader, R-California, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., said in their statement. “Now Congress must work together to improve American health care.”
There was no promise to renew the fight to repeal the law or to mount another legal battle over its constitutionality.
House Republicans remember Democrats hammering them over the 2018 mid-term repeal effort and easily gaining control of the House. Now, as they seek to regain power, Republicans are not at all interested in fighting to take Medicare benefits away from millions of Americans.
Former President Barack Obama praised the political and legal dynamics Thursday afternoon.
“This decision reaffirms what we have long known to be true: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said in a statement.
Such an outcome was far from certain last year, when Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Around the same time, he said repeatedly that the court should overturn Obamacare.
“We know what he thinks because he tells us what he thinks, and he’s made it clear that he wants his Supreme Court and this candidate to join him in eliminating the Affordable Care Act,” Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at Barrett’s confirmation of charges hearing. “This is his litmus test.”
Barrett adamantly refused to show his hand at the time, following the past practice of candidates evading questions from senators on pending court cases.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Who conducted the Democratic questioning, questioned her directly about the lawsuit which was finally decided on Wednesday.
“This is a matter for the court, and the canons of judicial conduct would prohibit me from expressing an opinion,” Barrett told Feinstein.
At the time, many Republicans and Democrats believed Barrett would be inclined to side with Trump, especially because she had criticized Roberts’ previous opinion supporting Obamacare in an unrelated matter.
But only two judges – Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, appointed by Trump – deviated from the majority opinion on Wednesday, which essentially ruled that states had no standing to prosecute because they would not be harmed by a mandate. insurance that the judges declared inapplicable. This is inapplicable because Trump and Congress removed the penalty from the law for people who refuse to purchase health insurance.
“Unsurprisingly, states have failed to demonstrate that an unenforceable mandate will lead their residents to enroll in valuable benefit programs that they would otherwise forgo,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote on behalf of the majority. Judge Clarence Thomas, on the majority side, wrote a separate concurring opinion.
In the end, Trump was wrong about the law, the policy of trying to kill the Affordable Care Act – and the assumption that he could control whatever votes he chooses on the Supreme Court.