With the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, many wondered whether the conservative majority would work to overturn major policies, like the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which yesterday heard arguments for a possible repeal. However, it appears that the Supreme Court remains heavily in favor of upholding the ACA, despite Barrett’s position, according to the New York Times.
The case is being tried before the Supreme Court thanks to Republican-led states and the Trump administration, who want the law struck down as unconstitutional. A coalition of Democratic-led states, however, wants it to remain in effect. Issued under the Obama administration, the ACA makes health care insurance affordable and available to many who would otherwise not have it. In 2017, Congress made the law’s individual mandate, which imposed a fine on those who opted out of the ACA but weren’t otherwise covered, unenforceable.
During the repeal hearing, the justices appeared skeptical of the arguments put before them by Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins and Acting Justice Department Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, who represented the Republican-led states’ coalition’s case. The biggest point for Hawkins and Wall was that, since Congress negated the individual mandate, the law should be completely struck down.
And while the conservative justices sided with critics of the ACA that the individual mandate was unnecessary, they didn’t seem inclined to buy into the fact that it seemed to affect the constitutionality of the entire law.
“I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down, when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act,” Chief Justice Roberts said in the hearing.
And while it appeared that the other conservative justices — Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch — were open to hearing more from Hawkins and Wall, the court only needs two votes from this faction of the justices to vote no on the repeal. The liberal members of the court — Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor — are all expected to vote widely in favor of the ACA.
“At some point, common sense, seems to me, would say, ‘Huh?’” Sotomayor said of the idea that the revocation of the individual mandate somehow harmed the states hoping to repeal the law.
An official verdict on the case isn’t expected until late spring or early summer of next year.