The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that it is backing a U.S. district court ruling that calls the Affordable Care Act “unconstitutional.”
On Monday, the DOJ said it supports U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s December ruling that found the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to be unconstitutional and concluded that the rest of the law was invalid as a result, according to The Hill. The stance backs up the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to dismantle the health care law, widely considered President Barack Obama’s signature achievement while in office.
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“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the DOJ said in a letter to the Court of Appeals, The Hill reported.
The DOJ said it backs having the December ruling stand until the case can be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. O’Connor is a conservative and so the partisan politics are expected to be at play, some allege.
Democrats previously denounced Trump’s plans to strip pre-existing condition protections from the health care law, also dubbed ObamaCare.
Time will tell whether the law will be upheld or struck down. Legal experts have weighed in on both sides, but many ultimately think the lawsuit, spearheaded by 20 Republican-led states, will be unsuccessful.
What’s at the heart of the lawsuit is that Congress in 2017, repealed the tax penalty in the health care law’s mandate, which requires everyone to have insurance. Republicans want the mandate to be stripped from the law and considered a violation of the Constitution. If this happens, Republicans will argue that since the mandate is invalid, the entire ObamaCare law should be thrown out and deemed unconstitutional.
Not so fast, according to many legal experts, who claim there is a legal precedent that backs up the position that even if the mandate is ultimately ruled unconstitutional, the rest of the law shouldn’t be impacted.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama in 2010. It included an individual tax mandate, which has been at the center of conservative and Republican anger at the law. The repeal of the individual tax mandate passed as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. President Trump has consistently promised a healthcare system “far better” than ObamaCare, but so far has not delivered on that promise.