In an early Christmas gift for freedom-loving Americans, a federal court unexpectedly struck down Obamacare, the massive, failing government healthcare program that is driving up costs, crushing patient choice, and shortening American lifespans, finding it unconstitutional because the individual mandate penalty that allowed the program to pass constitutional muster no longer exists.
The commonsense ruling this past Friday, Dec. 14, by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas held that in 2017 when Congress effectively repealed the mandate that forced Americans to buy health insurance that body “sawed off the last leg it [i.e. Obamacare] stood on.”
“The court finds the individual mandate ‘is essential to’ and inseverable from ‘the other provisions of’” the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, O’Connor wrote.
The court decision was celebrated on Twitter by President Donald Trump.
“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”
After calling the ruling “Great news for America!” Trump exhorted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to “get it done!”
The court ruling came a day before the Saturday cutoff for Americans to enroll in federal insurance exchanges authorized by the Obamacare statute.
The political legitimacy of the huge government takeover of the American healthcare sector has long been in doubt because it had no GOP support in Congress. Although some Republican lawmakers voted for Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, not a single Republican lawmaker voted for Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the disastrous Affordable Care Act. Because of Obamacare, insurance premiums throughout America have skyrocketed and bureaucratic red tape has strangled patient choice.
But Judge O’Connor’s ruling won’t be enforced right away. The losing side, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), has vowed to appeal the decision. Both sides say the legal dispute will make its way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the decision has “no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan,” Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote on Twitter.
Obamacare had withstood major legal challenges until now.
In the 2012 case, NFIB v. Sebelius, Chief Justice John Roberts went rogue, infamously siding with left-wing justices on the Supreme Court in a tortured, nonsensical judicial opinion that was widely ridiculed. On a 5-to-4 vote the all-encompassing 2,000-page Act was upheld as constitutional on the theory that the individual mandate, which required consumers to buy health insurance even if they didn’t want it, was somehow a valid exercise of the congressional power to tax. The same court also upheld the individual mandate in 2015 in King v. Burwell in a 6-to-3 vote. In 2017, Congress effectively nullified the mandate by reducing the tax penalty for not purchasing insurance to zero effective next year.
Texas, 18 other states, and consumers then launched a lawsuit arguing the law as amended in 2017 was unconstitutional because the individual mandate was so key to the Obamacare program that it could not operate in its absence. Sixteen states took the opposite tack and insisted the revised law be upheld.
Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, who was part of the legal team that vanquished Obamacare in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times the new ruling was “the third chapter in the trilogy” of significant challenges to Obamacare.
“The entire Affordable Care Act when it was originally crafted by Congress was built around the individual mandate penalty, the premise that the way to fund and to make viable this entire regulatory scheme was by compelling individuals to purchase health insurance. Hard-written into the statute in many ways is how it’s an essential component and how the regulatory scheme doesn’t function without the individual mandate penalty.”
In NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court deemed the mandate a valid exercise of congressional taxing power because it generated revenue, rejecting the government’s argument that the mandate could be justified under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Because the mandate penalty was reduced to zero by Congress last year, it no longer would generate revenue and could not be seen as an exercise of congressional taxing authority, Henneke said.
According to Judge O’Connor’s decision, the mandate, Henneke said, is “therefore … unconstitutional and because the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is built around the individual mandate penalty … the entire statute failed and was declared invalid.”
The court decision was immediately attacked by former President Barack Obama, his allies on the Left, and various legal commentators, largely on hyper-technical procedural grounds that have little or nothing to do with the Constitution.
Obama, who lied brazenly and repeatedly throughout the legislative process that culminated in the enactment of Obamacare, promising insurance premiums would go down and that patients could keep their medical doctors, used the court ruling to attack Republicans for doing the right thing.
“All of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that,” Obama said Saturday.
“If they can’t get it done in Congress, they’ll keep trying in the courts, even when it puts people’s pre-existing conditions coverage at risk.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the court ruling was “cruel” and “absurd” and that it “exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who in January will preside over an even smaller minority of Democrat senators, whined about the ruling on Sunday.
“It’s an awful, awful ruling, and we’re going to fight this tooth-and-nail, and the first thing we’re going to do when we get back there in the Senate is urge — put a vote on the floor urging an intervention in the case,” Schumer said on TV.
“A lot of this depends on congressional intent. If a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it’ll have a tremendous effect on the appeal,” he fantasized.
Henneke said claims people will lose insurance coverage because of the court ruling miss the point.
“To give a contrary example to those who are critical of this opinion, alleging that it will cause people to lose their insurance, I would point to the fact that you already have millions of people who have lost their insurance because of their inability to afford” the government-mandated plans, Henneke said.
Now we need to move forward with real healthcare reform, not more federal meddling in Americans’ lives, he said.
“We need to look at the policy not through the courts but by the legislative process and I think this is the more important lesson of how critical it is for the states to now reassert themselves in their role, to step back in and to be the drivers of healthcare policymaking.”
“We also look to encourage Washington, D.C., to recognize this for the sea change that it is and to stand down,” he said. “It’s never been a proper role for the federal government to regulate healthcare and health insurance. It is a proper role for the states.”