A majority of the Supreme Court signaled this week that they are inclined to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s essential components in a legal challenge brought by Republican states and the Trump administration.
Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh said during arguments on Tuesday that Congress’s move in 2017 to kill the individual mandate did not make the rest of the law unconstitutional.
“I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall…when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act,” Roberts told Kyle Hawkins, the Texas solicitor general leading the challenge on behalf of 18 Republican-led states.
“I tend to agree with you that it is a very straightforward case under our precedents,” Kavanaugh added, “meaning that we would excise the mandate and leave the rest in place.”
Roberts, Kavanaugh and the three liberal justices on the court would make a majority to leave the ACA in place, though a decision isn’t expected until the first half of 2021.
President-Elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration’s efforts to strike down a law that covers 20 million Americans in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s at stake: The consequences of the Trump administration’s argument are not academic or an abstraction,” Biden said this week. “For many Americans, they are a matter of life and death, in a literal sense.”