Texas Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

Obamacare Here Sign Joe Raedle Getty
Joe Raedle/Getty

A Texas federal judge on Friday ruled that Obamacare violated the Constitution, likely pushing the ruling towards the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Reed O’Connor, a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas appointed by former President George W. Bush, ruled that Obamacare violated the Constitution.

Twenty Republican state attorneys general brought the suit, Texas v. Azar, who asked the court to rule that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) violates the Constitution after Republicans managed to zero out Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year. The judge ruled that the law’s individual mandate violates the Constitution and therefore the entire ACA violates the Constitution.

Judge O’Connor acknowledged that health care is a “politically charged affair — inflaming emotions and testing civility.”

However, O’Connor added that the courts “are not tasked with, nor are they suited to, policymaking.”

O’Connor said that because the individual mandate is “essential” to the rest of the ACA, all of Obamacare is invalid.

“Congress stated many times unequivocally — through enacted text signed by the president — that the individual mandate is ‘essential’ to the ACA,” O’Connor wrote. “And this essentiality, the ACA’s text makes clear, means the mandate must work ‘together with the other provisions’ for the Act to function as intended.”

O’Connor’s ruling comes one day ahead of when Obamacare’s marketplaces will close for most of the country’s open enrollment period. The newest enrollment numbers found that Obamacare sign-ups are down roughly 20 percent.

DOJ attorney Brett Schumate asked that the courts that any changes to the ACA be delayed until 2020, given that markets have already established Obamacare insurance rates.

House Republicans managed to pass an Obamacare repeal proposal known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA); however, Senate Republicans failed to pass multiple Obamacare repeal proposals during this congressional term.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday, “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!”

The petitions are Texas v. Azar, Case 4:18-cv-00167-O in the Northern District of Texas District Court. 


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