The Supreme Court has tossed out a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that sought to do away with the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, in a 7-2 decision that means, among other things, that some 21 million Americans will keep their health insurance while insurance companies must continue to cover pre-existing conditions. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion that the “plaintiffs do not have standing,” that is, a legal right to sue, to challenge Obamacare’s individual mandate “because they have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to defendants’ conduct enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional.” Alito and Gorsuch dissented.
The Trump administration refused to defend the ACA, which was signed into law in 2010 by former President Barack Obama, and urged the Supreme Court—along with 18 Republican state attorneys general—to kill it. When now-President Joe Biden took office, his Justice Department reversed the Trump position, keeping the ACA in place. “Following the change in Administration, the Department of Justice has reconsidered the government’s position in these cases,” Biden’s deputy solicitor general, Edwin Kneedler, wrote in February to Supreme Court clerk Scott Harris. According to a New York Times survey conducted last month, 44 percent of all Americans believe the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Of Democrats, 62 percent think the ACA is constitutional, compared to 40 percent of independents and just 26 percent of Republicans.