The Corner

Health Care

Farewell to the Dumb Obamacare Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Molly Riley/Reuters)

For more than three years I’ve been pointing out that the most recent lawsuit aiming to wipe out Obamacare had little chance of success. The legal arguments were weak, and it wasn’t even clear the plaintiffs had standing to sue.

Today the Supreme Court did the right thing. Seven justices, including Amy Coney Barrett, killed the case, finding the plaintiffs lacked standing.

The worst thing about the decision is that two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, mostly bought the lawsuit’s preposterous arguments. The best thing is that I’ll never again have to summarize the convoluted legal reasoning involved.

(Hey, remember that tax-cut law from the Trump era? Well, it repealed the individual mandate, but for reasons having to do with some goofy rules in the Senate, it didn’t really repeal the individual mandate; it left the command to buy insurance in the law while reducing the penalty to $0. Now, this is important because of that old Supreme Court case where John Roberts said the mandate was okay because it was a tax. If the penalty is $0, the mandate doesn’t raise money anymore, so it can’t be defended as a tax. And then there’s this legal concept called “severability” where a court could just strike down the $0 mandate and leave it at that, which wouldn’t be a big deal, but the lawsuit argues that even a $0 mandate is so crucial to the rest of the law that the entire law has to be thrown out . . .)

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