By Jon Dougherty
Amid the Left’s meltdown over special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that the 2016 Trump campaign and, most importantly the president himself, did not “collude” with Russia to ‘steal the election’ from Hillary Clinton, life goes on and good things continue to happen for the American people.
Like that federal court decision in December, in which U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Fifth Circuit ruled the individual mandate in Obamacare was unconstitutional, thereby rendering the entire law unconstitutional.
Yeah, so, the Justice Department affirmed and enjoined that decision on Monday, meaning that the Trump administration isn’t going to challenge the ruling.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now considering the case. “[T]he United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”
According to Politico, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the department “has determined that the district court’s comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal.”
The DOJ’s letter in the affordable care act case in the Fifth Circuit. pic.twitter.com/VusbWx1aBM
— Raffi Melkonian (@RMFifthCircuit) March 26, 2019
Isn’t this a moot point? Didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court already rule Obamacare was constitutional?
Yes, but that was on a different question — namely, the high court ruled 5-4 that the individual mandate was a “tax” and therefore within Congress’ authority to impose. Chief Justice John Robers wrote:
The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part. The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.
As for the Medicaid expansion, that portion of the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution by threatening existing Medicaid funding. Congress has no authority to order the States to regulate according to its instructions. Congress may offer the States grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to accept the offer.
The Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. Section 5000A [of the Internal Revenue Code] would therefore be unconstitutional if read as a command. The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because it can reasonably be read as a tax.
The case O’Connor heard dealt only with the singular issue of whether Congress has the authority to “order people to buy health insurance.” And in Roberts’ own words (in 2012), it does not.
This will be a huge win for American consumers and the health care industry as a whole; the fewer government rules imposed on the industry, the more free-market solutions can be tried and applied.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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