Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death & the future of the ACA: 3 notes

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought increased attention to a case over the legality of the ACA.

Ms. Ginsburg died Sept. 18 at her home in Washington, D.C., less than two months before the Supreme Court is slated to hear the case on Nov. 10.

At the center of the case is whether the health law should be struck down.

In a brief filed June 25 in Texas v. United States, the Trump administration argues the entire ACA is invalid because in December 2017, Congress eliminated the ACA's tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance. The administration argues the individual mandate penalty became unconstitutional when the tax penalty was eliminated; therefore, the entire health law should be struck down.

The administration's brief was filed in support of a group of Republican-led states seeking to undo the ACA. 

Meanwhile, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading 20 states and the District of Columbia to defend the ACA before the Supreme Court. 

Three notes on Ms. Ginsburg's death and the future of the ACA:

1. Ms. Ginsburg, a liberal court member, was a supporter of upholding the ACA, and her absence on the court means the lawsuit to strike down the ACA has a greater but uncertain chance at succeeding, legal scholars told The Washington Post

2. President Donald Trump said Sept. 19 that he plans to nominate a woman to replace Ms. Ginsburg, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Post noted, however, that whoever replaces Ms. Ginsburg is unlikely to take part in the ACA case unless the person is confirmed by early November, because justices traditionally only participate in decisions when they have heard oral arguments. The court has reportedly rescheduled oral arguments before when nine justices aren't able to participate.

3. With eight justices in place, there could potentially be a 4-4 decision in the case, according to the WSJ. Were that to happen, a December decision by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in New Orleans, that the ACA's individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional would stand.

Read the full Post report here and the full WSJ report here.


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