Twenty states are suing the Trump administration over Obamacare’s individual mandate — again.
Wisconsin, Texas and several other red states said in a lawsuit filed today that since Congress repealed the individual mandate’s tax penalty for not having coverage, that means the mandate itself — and the whole health care law — is invalid.
The GOP tax law “eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA, without eliminating the mandate itself,” the states argue in a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. “What remains, then, is the individual mandate, without any accompanying exercise of Congress’s taxing power, which the Supreme Court already held that Congress has no authority to enact.”
The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate in one of the highest-profile court cases in years. The justices did not agree then with the Obama administration’s main argument that the mandate penalty was valid under the Commerce Clause. But the justices did say that the mandate was a constitutional tax. The ruling riled conservatives who felt that Chief Justice John Roberts bent legal reasoning to preserve Obamacare.
Now, the states want to use that same Supreme Court ruling to take down the Affordable Care Act — which has withstood numerous legal challenges but which over the past year has been undermined by executive and regulatory actions the Trump administration has taken.
The states also argue that since the mandate is unconstitutional, the whole law should go. They note that Obamacare did not have a “severability clause” — a provision that says if one part of the law is struck by the courts, the rest would stand — so that once part of it is struck down, the rest in invalid.