Reed O’Connor, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas, just
If the ruling holds up on appeal, Obamacare is dead. As a doorknob. Not
just the mandate or some other particular provisions.
He killed the WHOLE THING.
The Order (pdf.) is embedded in full at the bottom of this post.
Here’s the short version. Texas and other states sued to declare the
individual mandate unconstitutional because in the recent tax reform
the penalty for failing to pay the mandate was removed. (2nd Amended
Complaint here) With the removal of the mandate penalty, the mandate no
longer was a function of Congress’ taxing power, which was the basis
upon which John Roberts and the liberal Justices on the Supreme Court
upheld the constitutionality of the mandate in 2012. The Court
conservative and Roberts had ruled the mandate violated the Commerce
Clause, but Roberts broke with the conservatives on the tax power
But there’s more.
The district court ruled that the mandate was an essential and
inseverable part of Obamacare. Because the mandate was held to be unconstitutional and inseverable, the judge held the remainder of
Obamacare to be unconstitutional.
The Court did not grant an injunction, so the Trump administration is
under no obligation to terminate programs under Obamacare unless and
until the Order holds up on appeal.
From the Order:
Resolution of these claims rests at the intersection of the
ACA, the Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB, and the TCJA. In
NFIB, the Supreme Court held the Individual Mandate was
unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but
could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power
because it triggered a tax. The TCJA eliminated that tax. The
Supreme Court’s reasoning in NFIB—buttressed by other binding
precedent and plain text—thus compels the conclusion that
the Individual Mandate may no longer be upheld under the Tax
Power. And because the Individual Mandate continues to mandate
the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable
under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court
Finally, Congress stated many times unequivocally—through
enacted text signed by the President—that the Individual
Mandate is “essential” to the ACA. And this essentiality,
the ACA’s text makes clear, means the mandate must work
“together with the other provisions” for the Act to function
as intended. All nine Justices to review the ACA acknowledged
this text and Congress’s manifest intent to establish the
Individual Mandate as the ACA’s “essential” provision. The
current and previous Administrations have recognized that,
too. Because rewriting the ACA without its “essential” feature
is beyond the power of an Article III court, the Court thus
adheres to Congress’s textually expressed intent and binding
Supreme Court precedent to find the Individual Mandate is
inseverable from the ACA’s remaining provisions.
Construing the Plaintiffs’ Application for Preliminary Injunction, (ECF
No. 39), as a motion for partial summary judgment, the Court therefore
DENIES Plaintiffs’ request for an injunction but GRANTS summary
judgment on Count I of the Amended Complaint.
The Court today finds the Individual Mandate is no longer
fairly readable as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power and
continues to be unsustainable under Congress’s Interstate
Commerce Power. The Court therefore finds the Individual
Mandate, unmoored from a tax, is unconstitutional and GRANTS
Plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief as to Count I of
the Amended Complaint.
* * *
Applying these standards, the Court finds the 2010 Congress
expressed through plain text an unambiguous intent that the
Individual Mandate not be severed from the ACA. Supreme Court
precedent supports that finding. And in passing the TCJA
through the reconciliation process, the 2017 Congress further
entrenched the intent manifested by the 2010 Congress.
* * *
All told, Congress stated three separate times that the
Individual Mandate is essential to the ACA.25 That is once,
twice, three times and plainly. It also stated the absence of
the Individual Mandate would “undercut” its “regulation of
the health insurance market.” Thirteen different times,
Congress explained how the Individual Mandate stood as the
keystone of the ACA. And six times, Congress explained it was
not just the Individual Mandate, but the Individual Mandate
“together with the other provisions” that allowed the ACA to
function as Congress intended….
On the unambiguous enacted text alone, the Court finds the
Individual Mandate is inseverable from the Act to which it
is essential.28 ….
“In sum, Congress passed the minimum coverage provision as a
key component of the ACA.” Id. at 599 (Ginsburg, J., joined
by Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor, JJ.) (emphasis added); accord
id. at 539 (majority) (“This case concerns constitutional
challenges to two key provisions, commonly referred to as the
individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion.” (emphasis
added)). Not a key component of the guaranteed-issue and
community-rating provisions, but of the ACA. The Supreme
Court’s only reasoning on the topic thus supports what the
text says: The Individual Mandate is essential to the ACA….
In sum, the Individual Mandate “is so interwoven with [the
ACA’s] regulations that they cannot be separated. None of
them can stand.” Wallace, 259 U.S. at 70.
* * *
The Court finds the Individual Mandate “is essential to” and
inseverable from “the other provisions of” the ACA.
Severability was a major subject of oral argument the first time
Obamacare came before the Supreme Court. See my March 28, 2012 post,
Obamacare Oral Argument, Day 3 – Severability.
Donald J. Trump
Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by
a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!
Donald J. 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. Mitch
and Nancy, get it done!
What does it matter that he was appointed by GW Bush? "We do not have
Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we
have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level
best to do equal right to those appearing before them."
Federal judge appointed by George W. Bush sides with Texas
in a Republican-led lawsuit to overturn core provisions of
the ACA—including the preexisting condition protections—as
The Texas decision on the Affordable Care Act is out. The individual
mandate is unconstitutional, the court rules, and the mandate can't be
severed from the rest of the Act.
The court's decision is NOT limited to guaranteed issue and
community rating. In the court's view -- and this is
*absolutely* insane -- the entire Affordable Care Act is
Yes, but by the time it reaches SCOTUS, how will Ms. Justice Barrett
This is your occasional reminder that the five justices
who voted to uphold Obamacare in 2012 are still on the
This is now a CERTIFIED LIBERAL TALKING POINT
Pelosi on Obamacare ruling: Tonight’s district court ruling exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-
existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care.