ACA Survives SCOTUS (Again)

Via WaPo: Affordable Care Act survives third Supreme Court challenge, as case from Trump administration and GOP-led states is rejected.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, saying Republican-led states do not have the legal standing to try to upend the law.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the court’s 7-to-2 decision, which preserves the law that provides millions of Americans with health coverage.

Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch dissented.

Fundamentally, the program has been in place for over a decade and it seems exceedingly unlikely that the Court would be willing to throw the health care system into chaos by overturning the ACA.

The Republican’s best chance to repeal the ACA was during the first two years of the Trump administration and if they truly want to do so in the future, they are going to need an actual plan (which, to date, they have not had).

FILED UNDER: Supreme Court, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    In some regard, rulings based on standing seem like dodge – intended to duck the primary issue. But this kinda seems important. A state does not get to sue because it doesn’t like a Federal Law. There needs to be something more substantive.

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Big day for all the people with pre-existing conditions, and the millions of other people, that Republicans wanted to take health care away from.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Alito and Gorsuch dissented. Apparently something in originalism grants standing. Perhaps their desire to own the libs counts.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Indeed. And I hope Ds use the occasion to message around that fact.

  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    They won’t…Dems suck at messaging.
    Republicans are openly supporting the Russians, Nazi’s, and the KKK…and Democrats can’t make them pay a price for it.

  6. Kylopod says:

    Fundamentally, the program has been in place for over a decade and it seems exceedingly unlikely that the Court would be willing to throw the health care system into chaos by overturning the ACA.

    And that isn’t what any of the incarnations of ACA repeal in 2017 really aimed to do. They were neither “repeal” nor “replace.” They didn’t eliminate any of the key provisions of the law. They didn’t restore the pre-ACA status quo. What they did do was cut taxes on the rich and slash Medicaid eligibility. In other words, the usual crap from Republicans. The GOP leaders in Congress aren’t any more willing than the right-wing justices to throw the financial system into chaos, as any true repeal of the ACA would invariably do.

    That may be why McConnell never moved to eliminate the legislative filibuster or bypass the Senate parliamentarian on reconciliation. It gave the Republicans cover to sell what they were doing as “Obamacare repeal” when it was nothing of the kind. The SCOTUS doesn’t have that excuse, but let’s not kid ourselves that this represents some kind of moderation.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    When you lack the desire, will or skill to create, you’re left with nothing to do but destroy.

  8. Mimai says:

    So pundits and politicians are not very good at predicting how a SC nominee will vote on future cases? I’m shocked, shocked (h/t MR).

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    if they truly want to do so in the future, they are going to need an actual plan (which, to date, they have not had).

    They’ve never had a plan because they don’t really want to repeal it. If they did they’d be like the dog that catches the car. “Now what?”

    Dawg help them if the true believers actually find a way to overturn Roe v Wade.

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Yeah…I would keep your powder dry.
    This case was decided on process, not merits…and was pretty much a slam dunk.
    She will be around for a long time and have plenty of opportunity to take health care away from people.

  11. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Republicans are openly supporting the Russians, Nazi’s, and the KKK…and Democrats can’t make them pay a price for it.

    “Nazi’s”? Brave man to taunt the Grammar Nazis that way…

  12. Mimai says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    No doubt!

    My powder is dry as, well, powder. I was merely noting the sogginess of pundits’ and politicians’ powder.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I wonder if there’s a “price” to be exacted in a society where people wear shirts that say “I’d rather live in Russia than be a Democrat.” And whose going to want it paid anyway? My guess would be that more people who are outraged are either on your side already or more likely to go to “don’t vote” than “vote D.”

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I was more struck by the faultlines emerging in the supposedly cohesive conservative bloc. Fulton v. City of Philadelphia was very eye-opening.

  15. Kurtz says:


    I scanned the Roberts decision. Haven’t looked at the concurrences yet.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:


    In short, the majority issued a very narrow decision predicated on a technicality and declined to overturn Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith. Alito absolutely lost his fricking mind about it in a pointedly accusatory fashion, Gorsuch echoed that without the invective, and Barrett fired back at them. Roberts basically ignored them in his opinion, and Kavanaugh backed Roberts. The liberal wing cheerfully went along with Roberts because they’re smart enough to recognize that the narrow opinion leaves about a million other ways for Philly to sidestep the opinion and block the agency anyway.

    Alito has long been the most dangerous justice with respect to absolutism in deference to religion above all other interests. I didn’t expect Brett to fall in with him, but Barrett surprised me here. I will admit that watching Alito lose his sh*t here was entertaining.

  17. Mimai says:


    Yes, this is what I was gesturing at. Of course, you put more words to it….and better than I could have.

    I agree with your take on Alito. He wears his emotion on his sleeve…and his pen. Gorsuch kinda surprised me on this one, though he has not been easy to typecast (at least not by my non-legal mind…you probably have a better model for his decision-making).

    My understanding is that Kavanaugh’s position wasn’t too surprising, though again, my impression is that a lot of people are telling just-so stories that don’t align with their dogmatic predictions about his dogmatism.

    Thomas? I don’t have the legal chops to parse his concurring opinion. Or to put it in context of his judicial philosophy, typecasting by opponents, etc. Do you have a cliff notes version?

    Finally and most interesting, Barrett. Isn’t she supposed to be another single-minded religious zealot? Guided by nothing but a very strict Catholicism? How does that square with her vote and, particularly, her pointed words toward Alito/Gorsuch?

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Alito ran to 77 pages of essentially “How dare you question the church?!” He’s a devout Catholic, always has been, and that devotion unavoidably (and impermissibly, IMLO) skews his legal reasoning. Where the church, especially his church, is concerned, he will always skew towards a position of absolute deference. It’s dangerously close to a basis for recusal (which, of course, he will never do).

    Gorsuch did exactly what we expected him to to – he’s a literalist, and the statutes admittedly do not sufficiently address this scenario in concrete terms, so presto – the court has no place stepping in to add words it wishes were present, but aren’t. In Neil’s mind, if the verbiage isn’t in the statutes or the Constitution, in literal terms, the court’s role is to defer to (and punt the issue back to) the applicable legislature to address. He’s remarkably consistent in his reasoning (which, while I disagree with his philosophy, I do respect his adherence to it over situational deviations towards preferred outcomes). He’s as predictable as the sun rising if you understand why he believes what he believes.

    Brett went along with this one, again IMO, because the outcome jived with what he thought it should be and he’s always been more of a politician (a la O’Connor) than a principled jurist. It (IMO) wasn’t a hill he considered worth antagonizing the Chief over, especially when the outcome was what he (IMO) believed it should be. This was Brett schmoozing up to his boss. The danger from Brett is going to come when we start getting into the looming attempts to undermine Griswold and its children.

    Thomas didn’t file a separate concurrence,. He joined both Alito and Gorsuch in their concurrence in the judgment (i.e. we like the outcome, but your reasoning in getting there was shitty and you didn’t go far enough to make us happy).

    Barrett – I haven’t figured that one out. If I’m honest, I have no idea why she reasoned this one out as she did, or why she’d take such direct aim at her supposed ideological brothers in arms, as it were. Zero idea on this one. I didn’t expect it at all, and I’m still shocked that she did what she did.

  19. Mimai says:


    Thanks, this is helpful….especially the part about Gorsuch and his consistency – this will help me understand his decisions in the future.

    Re Thomas, my understanding is that he filed a concurring opinion, basically saying that they didn’t have the right to sue. Assuming that is accurate, does his opinion fit within a consistent philosophy ala Gorsuch?

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I think we may be discussing different cases. I was referring to Fulton v. City of Philadelphia throughout. Thomas didn’t file a separate concurrence in that matter.

  21. Mimai says:


    Ha! We are. I was still perseverating on the case mentioned in the OP. I totally skipped over the part where you and Kurtz switched the emphasis. Oof!