U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS agrees to review ruling that struck down Affordable Care Act

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

The court granted two petitions Monday from California and a group of states and from Texas and a different group of states that requested review of a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans that struck down the mandate, SCOTUSblog reports.

The New York Times, Politico and the Wall Street Journal also have coverage.

The 5th Circuit ruled in favor of the group of states led by Texas, as well as several individuals, holding in its December decision that the ACA’s requirement that Americans maintain health insurance coverage became unconstitutional after Congress lowered the tax penalty to zero for failure to carry insurance in 2017.

A federal district court in Texas had previously ruled that the entire health law was invalid, but the appeals court declined to rule on the constitutionality of the law. It instead asked the lower court to reconsider that question.

California and the other group of states, which had joined the lawsuit to defend the mandate, went with the U.S. House of Representatives to the Supreme Court. They asked the high court to fast-track its consideration of their appeal.

After the Supreme Court rejected the request to expedite review of their petition in January, the federal government and the group of states led by Texas and other individuals challenging the mandate filed briefs opposing review.

The Supreme Court granted California’s petition for review Monday, which asks the justices to weigh in on whether the challengers have a legal right to sue; whether the mandate is unconstitutional; and whether, if the mandate is unconstitutional, it can be separated from the rest of the ACA.

“The uncertainty created by this litigation is especially problematic because individuals, businesses, and state and local governments make important decisions in reliance on the ACA.,” lawyers for California and other states wrote in their petition. “Prolonged uncertainty about whether or to what extent important provisions of the ACA might be invalidated makes these choices more difficult, threatening adverse consequences for American families, health care markets and the broader economy.”

In granting the cross-petition filed by Texas, the justices will also decide whether the district court was correct in finding the entire health law invalid.

The Supreme Court has already ruled in two cases challenging core provisions of the ACA in 2012 and 2015. It left most of the law intact in those decisions.

The two petitions in this case will be consolidated for one hour of oral argument in the fall, according to SCOTUSblog. The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to follow in 2021.

The cases are California v. Texas and Texas v. California.

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