In what should come as a surprise to exactly no one, the Supreme Court, in a 7–2 ruling, has rejected the challenge to Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act, or “ACA”) mounted by several red states.
In the majority opinion issued this morning, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court held that the two individual plaintiffs and the states did not have standing to claim that the ACA in its entirety became unconstitutional when Congress zeroed out the individual mandate — the mandate having been the basis on which the Court had earlier upheld the statute.
During now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Democrats absurdly claimed that then-President Trump was attempting to place Barrett on the Court to assure that the ACA would be invalidated. As I was hardly alone in pointing out at the time (see here), Justice Barrett’s record, in addition to her answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questions, made it a near certainty that she would not vote to toss out the statute. Regardless of what her policy views on the ACA may be, as matters of law, a) the states’ contention that the mandate was not severable from the rest of the ACA, and therefore that the whole voluminous statute had to be invalidated, was untenable, and b) the plaintiffs probably did not even have standing to raise their claims.
In the end, Barrett (along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett Kavanaugh) predictably joined Justice Breyer’s opinion, in which the majority never even reached the severability issue. As a preliminary matter, the claimants lacked standing.