In Ominous Sign For Health Law, Appellate Court Questions Whether House, Democratic AGs Have Right To Defend It
The surprising request from one of the most conservative circuit courts in the country suggests that the judges who will hear the case over the health law's constitutionality could toss out the appeal on procedural grounds. In that scenario, the lower court ruling overturning the law would stand. Legal experts have long-thought that the case would fail eventually and that the health law would prevail, but this move calls into doubt that prediction.
The Associated Press:
Court: Who Has Right To Defend ‘Obamacare’?
A federal appeals court on Wednesday requested written arguments on whether the House of Representatives and numerous Democratic-leaning states can step in to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that struck down President Barack Obama’s health care law. The question posed to lawyers on both sides of the “Obamacare” legal battle is significant because President Donald Trump’s administration isn’t defending the Affordable Care Act. The filing at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans also raises the question of whether there is a legitimate “live case or controversy” to be decided, and what the “appropriate conclusion” of the case should be if nobody involved can legally appeal the December ruling by Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor striking down the law. (McGill, 6/26)
Democrats Just Got An ‘Ominous’ Sign In Fight To Save Obamacare
One law professor, Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan, said in a tweet that the notice from the court was an "ominous sign." "If neither the blue states nor the House has standing, it would mean that no one has standing to appeal the decision," Bagley wrote in the tweet. "That would effectively leave the lower court decision unappealable." This isn’t the first time the federal courts have faced such a dilemma. When the Obama administration wouldn’t defend a federal law that allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage, the Republican-led House of Representatives was allowed to step in to advocate for the law. (Larson, 6/26)
Appeals Court Move Potentially An 'Ominous' Sign For Obamacare
The panel also asked if there is even a controversy left to decide in the case if the House and the states can’t participate, given the Justice Department’s position that it now agrees with the lower court ruling in the case. If neither the Democratic-led states nor the House has standing, that would effectively leave no party in the case to appeal the lower court decision from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas, Bagley wrote. (Ruger, 6/26)
Appellate Court Raises New Threat To Obamacare
The implications of such a decision for the future of the Affordable Care Act are difficult to parse without more information, legal experts said. But most suggested that it wouldn't bode well for supporters of Obamacare. “The odds that the Fifth Circuit does something nasty to the health-reform law have gone up,” Nicholas Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School who has followed the case closely, wrote on Twitter. (Demko, 6/26)
The Washington Post:
Appellate Court Raises Potential New Threat To ACA
If the 5th Circuit upholds the lower-court ruling — which would almost certainly put it back in front of the Supreme Court — it would create a political and logistical mess for the Trump administration and Congress. Republicans repeatedly failed to repeal and replace Obamacare while they controlled both the House and the Senate in 2017 and have little appetite to revisit health reform. “If a court decision came down quickly overturning the ACA, it would immediately catapult health care into the primary issue in the election,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy organization. “The issue is now almost 10 years old and has so many legal tentacles that it would take a long time and probably many additional lawsuits to figure out how to unwind it.” (6/26)
Court Questions Whether Blue States Have Standing To Seek To Uphold ObamaCare
Legal experts have long thought that the case will not ultimately succeed, that even if the 5th Circuit affirms the lower court ruling striking down the health law from a conservative judge, that the Supreme Court — which has twice upheld ObamaCare already in different cases — would not strike down the law this time either. (Sullivan, 6/26)