A federal judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional Friday evening.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision stemmed from the fact that Republicans eliminated the individual mandate last year in their major tax overhaul.
Former president Barack Obama’s signature health care law was affirmed in 2012 when the Supreme Court classified it as a tax based on the individual mandate, the penalty for Americans who do not buy health insurance. With that penalty no longer in place, Texas and other red states argued, Obamacare is unlawful.
“Without it, Congress and the Supreme Court have stated, the architectural design fails,” the Fort Worth judge said. “It is like watching a slow game of Jenga, each party poking at a different provision to see if the ACA falls.”
“The Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause — meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional,” O’Connor wrote. “The Individual Mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA.”
The ruling is expected to be appealed in the Supreme Court, however.
President Trump touted the ruling in a pair of tweets Friday night, calling it an “unconstitutional disaster” and calling on Congress to pass a reformed law.
“Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” he said.
“Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions,” he added.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that “the law remains in place” pending the appeal process.
Democratic congressional leaders denounced the decision, warning of dire consequences for Americans on Affordable Care Act plans if the law is scrapped.
The decision “exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, adding a promise to “formally intervene in the appeals process” to protect the law once Democrats lead the House again next year.
Her Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer said the “awful ruling … will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.”