The Trump administration and a coalition of Republican-led states have asked the Supreme Court to deny motions to expedite a review of a lawsuit challenging former President Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
The administration and state officials responded in separate filings on Friday to the motions, asking the top court to urgently consider taking up appeals of a lower court ruling that found a key aspect of Obamacare, the “individual mandate” provision, unconstitutional. The case has been sent back to the district court to decide on whether that provision was severable from the rest of the law.
In the filing, the administration and state officials argued that urgent consideration is not necessary because the district court needs to make a decision on the case before the Supreme Court can take up the case.
“As the case comes to this court, no lower-court ruling exists on severability or the appropriate remedy. Far from being urgently needed, this courts review thus would be premature,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in the filing (pdf) for the Trump administration.
“Absent any operative ruling invalidating the ACAs other provisions in the interim, the accelerated review petitioners seek is unnecessary,” he added.
He said instead of intervening, the court should let the lower courts complete their own consideration of the question of severability.
Moreover, in addressing the House and state officials request for the court to issue a ruling before its current term ends in June, Francisco said the appellants had not provided a compelling justification for an accelerated timeline to consider the case.
While asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, the House and state officials also proposed an accelerated timeline for the court to issue a ruling. They argued that the courts expeditious consideration is necessary because of the uncertainty the lower courts decision has on health insurance and the health care marketplace, as well as for millions of Americans who have purchased health insurance under Obamacare (pdf).
Following Congresss amendment, a group of Republican-led states and two private individuals filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the provision was no longer constitutional and that the whole ACA needed to be invalidated because the provision was inseverable from the rest of the law. During the district court trial, the Justice Department filed a motion to say they agreed that the provision was unconstitutional (pdf) and declined to defend the ACA.
A district court judge in Texas found in favor of the plaintiffs, prompting an appeal to the appeals court. The appeals court upheld the plaintiffs constitutional claims and sent the case back to the district court for a further review of the question of severability.
“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote in the majority opinion (pdf).
On the issue of severability, Elrod directed the district court to “employ a finer toothed comb” to conduct a more detailed analysis of which provisions of the ACA Congress had inRead More – Source