Supreme Court to rule on Affordable Care Act
© WikiMedia (Kjetil Ree)
Supreme Court to rule on Affordable Care Act

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases Monday, including a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate.

In California v. Texas, consolidated with Texas v. California, the court will hear arguments on the ACA to determine (1) whether the individual mandate to purchase minimum essential coverage is severable from the remainder of the ACA; and (2) whether the ACA is invalid in its entirety and unenforceable anywhere. The court has rejected a similar challenge on the constitutionality of the mandate in 2012 in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, holding that the mandate is a valid exercise of Congress’ taxing power. Texas and several other states now argue that since the 2017 amendment effectively eliminated the individual mandate penalty, it is no longer a tax penalty, and thus should be deemed unconstitutional.

In US Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, the court will review a Ninth Circuit decision regarding the applicability of the Freedom of Information Act, which provides a deliberative process privilege to the protection against disclosure of agency draft documents that were created as part of a formal interagency consultation process under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

The court also agreed to hear arguments in Borden v. United States, which raises the issue of whether the criminal defendant’s prior conviction of aggravated assault in Tennessee categorically qualifies as “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which requires that those who are convicted of possessing firearms receive a mandatory 15-year sentence if they have three or more past convictions of violent felonies. Defendant Borden plead guilty to possession of a firearm as a felon in violation of ACCA, after he was caught with a pistol during a traffic stop in April 2017. He argued that aggravated assault with a mens rea of mere recklessness should not be “a crime of violence” under the ACCA.