In a dramatic escalation of the Trump administration’s legal battle against President Obama’s health care law, Justice Department lawyers now say the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.
Having previously argued, under AG Jeff Sessions, that only the law’s pre-existing condition protections should be struck down, DoJ lawyers told a federal appeals court Monday it thinks the whole of ObamaCare is unconstitutional, siding with a Texas district court ruling that found Obamacare unconstitutional.
In a letter Monday night, the administration said “it is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal,” said Kerri Kupec, spokesperson for the Justice Department.
The Hill points out that the case centers on the argument that since Congress repealed the tax penalty in the law’s mandate for everyone to have insurance in 2017, the mandate can no longer be ruled constitutional under Congress’s power to tax.
The challengers then argue that all of ObamaCare should be invalidated because the mandate is unconstitutional.
Most legal experts say legal precedent shows that even if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of ObamaCare should remain unharmed, as that is what Congress voted to do in the 2017 tax law that repealed the mandate’s penalty.
Of course, at a moment when Trump’s political capital is soaring after the Mueller/Avenatti debacles have crushed the #resistance, as The Hill reports, the move is certain to prompt new denunciations from Democrats, who had already seized on the Trump administration’s earlier call for the pre-existing condition protections to be struck down.
“This lawsuit is as dangerous as it is reckless. It threatens the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans across the country — from California to Kentucky and all the way to Maine,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement.
“The Affordable Care Act is an integral part of our healthcare system… Because no American should fear losing healthcare, we will defend the ACA every step of the way.”
Specifically, as The Washington Times concludes, the administration’s decision to fully back the lawsuit will loom large on Tuesday when Democrats plan to propose measures that would make Obamacare more generous and combat Mr. Trump’s changes to the program, which they’ve dubbed “sabotage.”