The US Department of Justice filed a two-sentence letter on Monday to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit detailing support of the December ruling that found the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. The statement is consistent with the Trump administration’s stance against the Act.
The ACA calls for an individual mandate to obtain insurance, with a tax penalty for those who do not comply. Previously, the US Supreme Court determined the Act was constitutional only as an exercise of Congress’ power to tax. Subsequently, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which removed the tax penalty.
A coalition of 20 states filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of the ACA in light of the tax reform. In December US District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 rendered the ACA unconstitutional. With the elimination of the power to tax, O’Conner wrote that the Act’s individual mandate, on its own, is unconstitutional and not within Congress’ purview.
Currently, the case is on appeal and the submission from the DOJ requests the court to reaffirm the district court’s decision and plans to submit a brief:
The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed. Because the United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees’ schedule.