The Supreme Court Just Voted to Uphold Obamacare

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/AP

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Republican attorneys general suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act lacked standing. It was a 7-2 ruling, with only Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito dissenting. The ruling means the Affordable Care Act is upheld, preserving the landmark health care law and ensuring that millions of Americans will be able to keep their insurance plans.
The case had centered around a GOP argument that the effective lack of an individual mandate—the financial penalty for going without health insurance, which Trump’s 2017 tax cuts set to $0—invalidated the rest of the ACA. While legal experts have widely derided the argument that the individual mandate is inseverable from the rest of the legislation, health care advocates had feared that a Supreme Court with three Trump-appointed justices would strike down the law that the former president hoped to “end.” Instead, they dismissed the lawsuit without examining the merits.
The Supreme Court had voted to uphold major portions of the ACA twice before. In a 6-3 ruling in 2015, the Court agreed with the Obama administration that the law permitted the federal government to subsidize insurance premiums in every state. In a 5-4 ruling in 2012, it found that the individual mandate was constitutional because it could reasonably be considered a tax. That decision was thrown into confusion when a federal appeals court threw out the mandate in 2019. But, as the justices ultimately determined, the law still stands—and the 23 million people currently covered by ACA plans can breathe a sigh of relief.