The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, for the third time on Thursday, dismissing the latest legal challenge by 7 votes to 2.
Judges said that the plaintiffs had no legal standing to file the lawsuit. They included the state of Texas and other 17 Republican-dominated states.
Former President Donald Trump had been a vocal supporter of their legal bid to scrap Barack Obama’s signature legislation, which was brought in in 2010.
Writing on Twitter, U.S. President Joe Biden hailed the ruling as “a big win” for all Americans.
What exactly did the court say?
The ruling authored by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer did not decide on some of the broader legal questions.
“We do not reach these questions of the act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them,” he wrote.
The decision gave no opinion on whether a key provision in the law was unconstitutional and, if so, whether the rest of the statute should be struck down.
The provision, called the “individual mandate,” originally required Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a financial penalty.
Breyer wrote that none of the challengers, including Texas and 17 other states and individual plaintiffs, had established that there was a legal injury that stemmed from the individual mandate.
Two of President Donald Trump’s three appointees to the court, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, joined the majority opinion, while the third, Neil Gorsuch, dissented.
How did US lawmakers react?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, hailed the decision, but used a news conference to hit out at the Republicans who brought the challenge.
“We will never forget how Republican leaders embraced this monstrous suit to rip away millions of Americans’ healthcare in the middle of a deadly pandemic,” she said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, another Democrat, called the ruling a “major victory” by keeping the sweeping health care law in place.
“For more than a decade, the Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land, providing health coverage and a multitude of protections to tens of millions of Americans across the nation, and today’s decision solidifies those protections for generations to come,” James said.
No senior Republicans have commented on the decision as yet.
Republicans’ long bid to scrap Obamacare
Republicans have long opposed former President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, launching legal challenges to try and scrap it.
Trump, prior to taking office, vowed to repeal and replace the plan.
Under the act, millions of people in the United States must purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty. However, in 2017, Congress removed a key plank of the policy, eliminating a federal fine for those who do not, rendering that part of the act toothless.
More than 30 million low-income Americans now rely on the Obamacare scheme to access health insurance.
jf/msh (AP, Reuters)
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