The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a GOP challenge to Obamacare, upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the third time.
In a 7-2 decision, the Court found that Texas and 17 other states lack legal standing to sue, as they had not suffered a direct injury, according to the New York Times. The ruling will allow the ACA to continue operating after 11 years. As Axios notes, it shows "that there are some limits to how much of the Republican agenda can be accomplished through the courts, even with a solid conservative majority" (if you can call it that).
The Justices did not touch on the larger issues in the case, however, namely whether Obama's signature legislation could stand without a provision that forces Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.
Background on the ACA from Axios:
How we got here: The ACA required most Americans to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. When the law first passed, that mandate was seen as essential to making the law’s other provisions work, particularly its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the mandate as an exercise of Congress' taxing power. The federal government couldn't simply require people to buy insurance, the court said, but it could tax their decision not to do so.
- In 2017, as part of the GOP's tax cut package, Congress zeroed out the penalty for being uninsured, nullifying the individual mandate.
- A group of Republican attorneys general then sued. The tax penalty was now gone, and all that remained was the part that said Americans had to buy insurance. So, they argued, the mandate had become unconstitutional — and the rest of the law had to fall along with it.
Thursday's majority ruling was written by Justice Breyer, while Justices Alito and Gorsuch dissented - with Alito writing that the states' lawsuit should have been allowed to proceed, as the shell of the mandate is "clearly unconstitutional, and to the extent that the provisions of the ACA that burden the States are inextricably linked to the individual mandate, they too are unenforceable."