WASHINGTON (thehill): The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare against the latest Republican challenge, preserving the landmark law and its key protections for millions of people with preexisting health conditions.
The justices ruled 7-2 that the GOP challengers lacked standing to sue.
The case arose after 18 Republican states brought a legal challenge in 2018 aimed at striking down the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Led by Texas, the GOP challengers focused on the ObamaCare tax penalty meant to induce the purchase of health insurance by most Americans. They argued that President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which zeroed out the penalty, made that provision unconstitutional.
Without the tax penalty, they argued, ObamaCare effectively lost its constitutional footing, requiring its invalidation by the court.
But the justices did not even address those issues in their decision.
“We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority.
Breyer was joined by fellow liberal justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as four of the court’s more conservative members: Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Two of the court’s staunchest conservatives, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, wrote in dissent.
The lower courts had largely sided with the Republican states but agreed to delay enforcement of the ruling while appeals played out. ObamaCare’s defenders, comprising a coalition of 20 blue states and the Democratic-led House, appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department under Trump backed the GOP states in urging the justices to strike down the law. But the Biden administration reversed course.
ObamaCare is credited with expanding Medicaid for poorer Americans and making private health plans more affordable for lower-income families. Health experts say the law has provided a crucial backstop for those who have lost job-based coverage during the pandemic.