Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in New Affordable Care Act Challenge

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By Emily Drooby

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 10 on the latest suit against the Affordable Care Act. Conservative states, led by Texas and supported by the Trump administration, asked the court to strike down the entire 2010 law due to an amendment added in 2017, which got rid of the penalty for not having health insurance.

They argue that because a key provision is now unconstitutional, the whole law should go away.

It was believed the conservative majority on the court would make this a shoe-in.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed to signal they could cast aside the challenged mandate, but leave the rest of the act standing.

“I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down,” said Chief Justice Roberts.

While Justice Kavanaugh, speaking later in the oral arguments said, “I tend to agree with you on this, a very straightforward case for severability under our precedents, meaning that we would exercise the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place.”

The law has survived two previous challenges: one in 2012 and one in 2015. But since then, three new conservative judges have been added to the bench. That includes President Trump’s latest pick, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Speaking on Tuesday during the arguments, Justice Barrett said, “You’re asking us to treat it as it functionally has been repealed. But that’s not what Congress did, does that matter?”

President Donald Trump has been outspoken in his desire to get rid of the act – also known as ObamaCare.

Former Vice President and projected winner of the 2020 election, Joe Biden, has been a staunch defender of the ACA. While holding a press conference Tuesday, he promised to protect Americans’ health care.

There is no way of knowing for sure how the vote will go until the official decision is handed down, which is expected to happen towards the end of June.