DOJ won't defend ACA, argues individual mandate is unconstitutional

The Department of Justice won't defend major provisions of the ACA in a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states, arguing key parts of the ACA are unconstitutional and should be overturned, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here are six things to know:

1. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA's individual mandate, which requires most people to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty, as a valid use of Congress' taxing power. However, Congress repealed the penalty as part of last year's tax bill, while technically keeping the mandate itself in place, according to The Hill.

2. A group of GOP-led states filed a federal lawsuit in February claiming the ACA's individual mandate is now unconstitutional because the tax penalty the Supreme Court upheld is no longer in effect. They also argue the ACA provisions guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions can't be separated from the mandate and should be invalidated.

3. In a brief filed in the case June 7, the DOJ argued those key provisions of the ACA are unconstitutional, siding in large part with GOP-led challenge to the ACA, according to The Hill.

4. In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DOJ will not defend the constitutionality of provisions of the ACA. He said the decision was made with the approval of President Donald Trump.

5. Although it is unusual for the DOJ not to defend a federal law that is challenged in court, it is not the first time the DOJ has done something like this. The Obama administration took a similar approach when it quit defending the federal ban on same-sex marriage, according to The Wall Street Journal.

6. Although the DOJ won't defend the key ACA provisions in court, 16 states and the District of Columbia have been granted permission to intervene in the case and defend the ACA, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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