Is the PP-ACA Un-Constitutional?

A Texas court has declared the entire ACA unconstitutional

Austin Frakt PhD

By Austin Frakt PhD

And I’ve got an op-ed in the Washington Post about why the court is wrong. Here’s a taste:

Who cares if a zero-dollar mandate is constitutional or not? Why does it matter in the slightest? And what on earth does it have to do with the rest of ACA?

You might have thought that the right remedy would be to invalidate the penalty-free mandate. Doing so would align with Congress’s evident view that an ACA without an individual mandate was preferable to an ACA with it. That’s what I argued in an amicus brief with a bipartisan group of law professors.

Instead, the court held that the entire ACA was “inseverable” from the purportedly unconstitutional mandate. To reach that conclusion, the judge leaned heavily on Congress’s findings from 2010, where it said that the individual mandate was “essential” to the law.

But the mandate that the 2010 Congress said was essential had a penalty attached to it. The finding is irrelevant to a mandate that lacks any such penalty.

In any event, it doesn’t matter what Congress meant to do in 2010. It matters what Congress meant to do in 2017, when a different Congress made a different call about whether the mandate was essential. We know what Congress wanted to do in 2017: repeal the mandate and leave the rest of the act intact. Its judgment could not have been plainer. (I know. I was there! So were you. It wasn’t that long ago.)

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You can read the whole thing here. My co-amici, Jonathan Adler and Abbe Gluck, have a New York Times op-ed sounding similar themes.

I’ll probably write them up more extensively in the coming days, but I’ve also got tentative thoughts about the immediate consequences of the decision (short answer: nothing right now) and the potential difficulties with getting a quick appeal of the decision.

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Conclusion

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