News

Law & the Courts

Fifth Circuit Rules Obamacare Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

A woman reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, Calif., in 2014. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 vote Wednesday that Obamacare’s individual mandate, which required Americans to buy health insurance under threat of fine, was unconstitutional.

“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the ruling said. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”

The Supreme Court’s 2012 majority decision to uphold the ACA was largely reliant on Congress’ taxing power.

The Fifth Circuit’s Wednesday ruling affirmed Texas district judge Reed O’Connor, who ruled last December that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, and sends the case back to him to determine whether the rest of the 2010 healthcare statute must also be struck down.

“It may still be that none of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, even after this inquiry is concluded,” Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said in her majority opinion. “It may be that all of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate. It may also be that some of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, and some is not.”

In his 2018 ruling, O’Connor wrote that “the Individual Mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA.” While still technically in effect, the mandate was effect gutted by the 2017 Republican tax package.

The Fifth Circuit said its decision to send the case back to O’Connor was largely precipitated by the Trump administration’s decision to switch legal positions in the case.

In its original argument, the Justice Department had said just the law’s individual mandate and main insurance protections should be abolished.

But this year, under Attorney General William Barr, the DOJ expanded its challenge to Obamacare by arguing the entire law should be found unconstitutional only in the states challenging the law. The constitutionality of the broader legislation remains to be adjudicated by a lower court as the fifth cicruit decision handed down Wednesday dealt narrowly with the individual mandate provision.

Texas and 17 other Republican-led states sued in 2017 after the GOP-led Congress cut the tax penalty for those who lacked insurance to zero.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More
World

How to Make China Pay

One of the big questions facing the international community today is how to hold China legally and politically accountable for all its dishonesty and harm to people around the world. According to reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed to the White House that China has deliberately understated the ... Read More
World

How to Make China Pay

One of the big questions facing the international community today is how to hold China legally and politically accountable for all its dishonesty and harm to people around the world. According to reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed to the White House that China has deliberately understated the ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More