A federal judge in Texas just ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional


President Trump applauded the decision on Twitter Friday night, writing that he had "predicted all along" that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty a year ago, it eliminated the U.S. Supreme Court's rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.

The district court ruling does not necessarily mean the law is officially null, however. Among other things, it's not clear why the states had standing to file their claim, and the argument that the entire ACA must fall because of the individual mandate's alleged infirmity is strained, to say the least, for reasons I outlined with Abbe Gluck in this NYT piece and

"Congress stated many times unequivocally - through enacted text signed by the President - that the Individual Mandate is "essential" to the ACA", O'Connor wrote in the decision, using the initials of the law's formal title, the Affordable Care Act.

O'Connor's decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law. California and other states had intervened to defend the 2010 health care law after the Trump administration declined to defend its provisions that guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, arguing that those provisions can not be separated from the mandate.

O'Connor ruled that ObamaCare is "non-severable from the individual mandate, meaning that the Act must be invalidated in whole". Typically, the executive branches argues to uphold existing statutes in court cases.

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In a court brief and an accompanying letter to congressional leaders, the Justice Department did not go that far.

As part of a tax overhaul a year ago, congressional Republicans pushed through a change in which that ACA penalty will be eliminated, starting in January.

Politifact notes that 20 million people gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

In the decision, O'Connor denied the proposed injunction but agreed with Paxton and the plaintiffs that the act is unconstitutional.

Twenty Republican-led states brought the lawsuit. They argued the judge should spare the rest of the law, which includes Medicaid expansion, the employer mandate, health exchanges, premium subsidies and federal health-care reimbursement rates for hospitals. In Maine, outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, R, joined the lawsuit, but the state attorney general's office told the court last month that the governor did not have power to do so on his own.