The US Supreme Court has rejected a recent Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, upholding Barack Obama’s groundbreaking health care reforms in a major victory for Democrats.
In a 7-2 opinion issued Thursday, the nine-member court denied an attempt to overturn the sweeping Affordable Care Act, which provided health coverage to tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans.
Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by two other liberals, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, as well as four conservatives: Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Connie Barrett. Samuel Alito defected and was joined by fellow conservative Neil Gorsuch.
Thursday’s decision marks the third time the nation’s highest court has dismissed challenges to the anti-corruption law, following rulings in 2012 and 2015. The latest case was brought by a group of 18 states led by Texas and two people. Donald Trump White House A friend’s note has been submitted to support the plaintiffs.
Prosecutors had targeted the controversial “individual mandate” that originally required all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine.
In 2012 resolution Endorsing the ACA, the Supreme Court decided that the penalty for not having insurance could be described as a tax, making it a constitutional use of the powers of Congress.
However, Congress later reduced the penalty to zero. The Texas-led plaintiffs sued, arguing that the mandate was no longer constitutional, and the entire law should be repealed.
But the majority found that the plaintiffs did no harm that would give them grounds to sue.
To gain standing, a plaintiff must “claim that the personal injury is attributable to some extent to the alleged unlawful conduct of the defendant and is likely to be compensated through the relief sought,” Breyer wrote. “No plaintiff has shown that such injury.” It is somewhat attributable to the ‘allegedly unlawful conduct’ contested here.
The decision in California v. Texas is among the first high-profile rulings since Barrett joined the podium last October, tipping the scales of the nation’s highest court, 6-3, in favor of justices appointed by Republican presidents.
Some progressives in recent weeks have called for Breyer, the oldest judge at 82, to retire so that Democratic President Joe Biden can nominate a liberal alternative while his party controls Congress. Supreme Court justices are nominated by the presidents for lifetime appointments, but their nominations must be confirmed by a simple majority in the Senate.
But Thursday’s ruling emphasized that judges do not always rule on ideological grounds. The resolution was opposed by only two Republican-appointed jurists, Alito and Gorsuch.
“Today’s decision is the third installment in our saga of the Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as the first and second installments,” Alito wrote in his opposition. “In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the court made an unlikely bailout.”
The ACA, often called “Obamacare,” was signed into law in 2010. The legislation divided public opinion but has become increasingly popular among American voters in recent years. It has withstood many legal challenges since its passage, as well as Republican-led efforts to repeal the law in Congress.
“After more than a decade of attacks on the Affordable Care Act by Congress and the courts, today’s decision — the third major challenge to the law the United States faces. The Supreme Court has dismissed — is the time to move forward and continue to build on this landmark law,” Biden said in a statement. after the decision.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Thursday’s decision “a historic victory for Democrats’ work to advocate protections for people with pre-existing conditions against the relentless efforts of Republicans to dismantle them.”
Her comments were echoed by Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, who vowed to build on existing legislation. Democrats have called for expanding Medicaid — public health insurance for low-income Americans — among other health care reforms.
“Let me say emphatically: The Affordable Care Act has won, the Supreme Court has ruled, and the ACA is here to stay,” Schumer said.
“Still a BFD,” White House chief of staff Ron Klein wrote on Twitter, an apparent reference to a moment in 2010 when Vice President Biden was heard whispering to Obama at the signing of the ACA: “This is a big deal.”