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Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health

State of Texas, et. al. v. U.S.

Overview

State of Texas, et. al. v. U.S. (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, December 18, 2019): After establishing that the parties had sufficient standing to raise their claims, the 5th Circuit agreed with the lower district court that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 is unconstitutional. In NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), the U.S. Supreme Court pre-determined that the sole route through which Congress could require individuals to purchase health insurance via the ACA was pursuant to the federal power to tax. When Congress zeroed out the ACA’s “shared responsibility payment” in 2017, the tax power was negated, invalidating the mandate itself. Although the lower court previously concluded that the elimination of the individual mandate rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional, the 5th Circuit majority did not agree. It rebuked federal district court Judge Reed O’Connor for his over-reaching analyses, remanding the case back to his court for “a more searching inquiry” of which ACA provisions are severable from the individual mandate. As the process of reviewing the severability of ACA provisions may take months, questions have already surfaced regarding potential immediate appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read the decision here.

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