Federal judge strikes down Obamacare as unconstitutional

Randy Kelley
December 15, 2018

A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday evening that key components of the Affordable Care Act -better known as Obamacare- were unconstitutional; saying the "entire health-care law" violates federal law. The decision comes amid a six-week open enrollment period for the program.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law previous year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law. "For the reasons stated above, the Court grants Plaintiffs partial summary judgment and declares the Individual Mandate, 26 U.S.C. § 5000A (a), UNCONSTITUTIONAL". As Case Western Law Professor and Volokh Conspiracy contributor Jonathan Adler, who is a longtime critic of the health care law, has argued (along with others), the policy statements made as part of the original law don't really matter, not anymore, because last year's Congress told us quite clearly that they did believe the law could stand on its own without a mandate penalty.

President Trump applauded the decision on Twitter Friday night, writing that he had "predicted all along" that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

'The Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause - meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional, ' the judge wrote.

"When House Democrats take the gavel, the House of Representatives will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans' effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act", Mrs. Pelosi said. "The A.C.A. has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court".

"The judge's decision vindicates President Trump's position that Obamacare is unconstitutional", Sanders continued.

Becerra called Friday's ruling "an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA's consumer protections for healthcare, on America's faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans". We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. And while anything is possible, the most likely outcome is that Obamacare remains in place; even if the case makes it to the Supreme Court, it's unlikely that the AGs will prevail, since Brett Kavanaugh wrote an opinion offering up a potential argument for saving the law.

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, reacted harshly to the decision. "The ruling seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully it will be overturned".

It's hard to imagine that will happen, however, as the ruling is almost certain to be appealed, and this particular case against the law has real weaknesses.

This is a developing story.

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