ACA faces new legal hurdle

A federal appeals court called for Democratic states and the U.S. House to file a 15-page brief explaining why they have legal standing to defend the ACA, Bloomberg reports.

If the judges determine that the states and House do not have standing, the court may throw out the case without hearing arguments, effectively ruling the ACA unconstitutional. The states have seven days to file the report, according to Bloomberg

The lawsuit was filed in February by 20 Republican state attorneys general. It argues the ACA became unconstitutional when the 2017 tax law repealed the penalty associated with the individual insurance mandate. It also claims the mandate is inseverable from the rest of the law, making the entire ACA unconstitutional. 

The Trump administration declared it would not defend the law in June 2018.  A federal judge in Texas ruled the ACA unconstitutional last December. In response to that ruling, a group of Democratic attorneys general and the House, led by Democrats, filed an appeal in January. 

The appellate court now seeks to clarify whether the states can defend the law if the federal government will not, according to Bloomberg. 

In a similar situation during the Obama administration, the Justice Department declined to defend a federal law that prevented same-sex marriage, and the House was allowed to intervene and defend the law, according to Bloomberg.  

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