Supreme Court sets hearing date on ACA case

August 20, 2020

As expected, the case will be heard after the general election.

The U.S. Supreme Court has set a hearing date for the Trump administration’s latest attempt to have the Affordable Care Act (ACA) nullified.

According to the High Court’s online docket, the justices will begin hearing arguments in the case on Nov. 10, a full week after voters will decide who will lead the country in the 2020 general election, a contest likely to hinge on the two candidates’ healthcare policies.

The case stems from a legal challenge to the law’s individual mandate provision.

Previously, the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, the majority chose to return the case to Judge Reed O’Connor in the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, to determine whether the mandate can be severed from the rest of the law.

In 2018, O’Connor ruled the ACA was unconstitutional because of how central the mandate was to the law, according to a report from The New York Times.

O’Connor’s previous ruling was based on Congress’s belief when it enacted the ACA that the individual mandate was a key element to the law that could not be severed from it. He found the mandate unconstitutional because a 2012 Supreme Court decision upheld the mandate, saying that it fell under Congress’ powers over taxation, according to the Times.

When the tax penalty was eliminated in 2017, 20 state attorneys general, the plaintiffs in the case, argued that defense of the law was no longer effective and that the rest of the law should be invalidated along with it. The Department of Justice refused to defend the law, and later joined the plaintiffs in arguing against the law, according to the Times.

The Fifth Circuit decision has since been appealed, thus bringing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where the health insurance coverage of about 23 million Americans hangs in the balance, according to Times report.

The Trump administration has put its weight behind those challenging the law and is attempting to make good on President Donald J. Trump’s campaign pledge to repeal and replace the law. A feat Trump was incapable of accomplishing despite control of both houses of congress in the early days of his administration.

The fight over the ACA is coming to a head at a time where the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has brought healthcare to the forefront of American thought.