Obamacare ruling likely headed to federal appeals court in New Orleans

December 18, 2018 - 9:50 am


A key Obamacare court case is likely headed to the New Orleans based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals after a Texas judge struck down the entire law on the basis that the individual mandate penalty was unlawful. Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says the 5th is one of the most conservative courts in the nation, with two thirds of the sitting judges having been appointed by Republican Presidents.

“I would expect that the Court is going to be a fairly favorable venue for the plaintiffs in this case, which include the state of Louisiana.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry supports the lawsuit, while Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards says the lower court ruling jeopardizes health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans.  
As part of the Republican tax reform package, the penalty for not having insurance was set to zero dollars.

Ciolino says the law has generated an interesting legal response, and the feds have decided not to defend it in court as a collection of state’s attorney generals have attacked it in court.

“The Trump Administration did not even defend the law, as passed, during the Obama Administration, which is unusual because the Department of Justice typical would respond to a suit like this in defense of the existing law.”

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act say this is a case that was already tried in 2012, when the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate, calling it a tax.

The Professor says the Justice Department’s refusal to defend the ACA in court has led to an unusual situation where a judge allowed non-parties to argue on behalf of the law. Ciolino says the lack of federal backing puts Obamacare’s legal defenders in a tough spot.

“It’s an unusual case, and that makes it one that is going to be more difficult to overturn in a very conservative 5th Circuit.”

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