OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
In what could be the final blow to Republicans’ chances of getting rid of Obamacare via the courts, the Supreme Court ruled against the latest GOP challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
In a 7 – 2 decision that saw conservative Justices Amy Coney-Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas sided with the Democrats to keep the law alive, The New York Times reported.
The court did not reach the larger issues in the case: whether the bulk of the sprawling 2010 health care law, President Barack Obama’s defining domestic legacy, could stand without a provision that initially required most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.
In the years since the enactment of the law in 2010, Republicans have worked hard to destroy it, and President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized it. But attempts to repeal it failed, as did two earlier Supreme Court challenges, in 2012 and 2015. With the passing years, the law gained in popularity and was woven into the fabric of the health care system. Its future now seems secure.
Striking down the Affordable Care Act would have expanded the ranks of the uninsured in the United States by about 21 million people — a nearly 70 percent increase — according to recent estimates from the Urban Institute.
The biggest loss of coverage would have been among low-income adults who became eligible for Medicaid under the law after most expanded the program to include them. But millions of Americans would also have lost private insurance, including young adults whom the law allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until they turned 26 and families whose income was modest enough to qualify for subsidies that help pay their monthly premiums.
The case was brought by Republicans who said that the mandate to require people to carry health insurance became unconstitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty for not having it in 2017.
The reason for the justice’s decision, as penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, is that because the penalty is non-existent it did not cause harm to the plaintiffs
The opinion was authored by Justice Stephen Breyer who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. https://t.co/twlCNPy4hZ
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 17, 2021
“For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” he said. “They have failed to show that they have the standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”
For Justice Breyer to pen the majority decision in favor of liberals is poetic as he has been the subject of a campaign by many of them to have him retire at the end of this term.
Democrats are having flashbacks of what happened with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but this time it is with current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Many Democrat politicians have been tiptoeing around his feelings and not directly asking him to retire because they are frightened that it may look too political.
But what they want is a new, young liberal justice on the court in the place of the 82-year-old justice, CNN reported.
“I’m not sure that that kind of pressure on Justice Breyer is actually helpful in his decision making,” Democrat Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “I don’t know the man well enough, but I know plenty of people whose backs would get up when subjected to that kind of pressure. And it’s certainly plausible.”
California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that the retirement of Justice Breyer would be a “great loss.”
“My general belief is, if a person is serving with integrity and working hard and producing for whatever the constituency is, that’s what these jobs are all about,” she said.
But not all Democrats feel the same way. Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones said that he believes the justice should retire, citing Justice Ginsburg as an example.
“There’s no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term,” he said to Cheddar News in an interview in April.
“My goodness: have we not learned our lesson?” he said, referring to Ginsburg’s seat being filled by Donald Trump.