U.S. Supreme Court Appears Likely to Uphold the Affordable Care Act

Supreme Court

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). At issue is the constitutionality of the ACA's individual coverage mandate and whether the entire law must fall if the mandate is found unconstitutional. The Republican-led states challenging the law, along with the Trump administration, have argued that because Congress cut the penalty for not purchasing insurance to zero in 2017, the mandate was now unconstitutional. Further, because the individual mandate was tied to other provisions in the ACA, they argue that the entire law should be invalidated. 

During the oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh both suggested that it was not the Supreme Court's role to invalidate the entire ACA. Roberts pointed out that if Congress intended the entire ACA to fall if the mandate was removed, it could have repealed the rest of the act when it eliminated the individual mandate penalty. Kavanaugh also indicated he agreed that some provisions of the act could be severed from the rest of the ACA if necessary. Newly appointed justice Amy Coney Barret also seemed to focus on the fact that Congress didn't repeal the entire law in 2017 when it had the chance. 

While the fate of the ACA was a focus of the recent confirmation hearings for Justice Barrett, many legal observers were skeptical that the court would strike down the entire act, even with its new conservative majority.

November 13, 2020 - 3:20pm
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