17 republican led states brought the challenge, wanting the court to overturn Obamacare. They argued that since the individual mandate; the penalty for not buying health insurance was redefined by the court as a “tax” in 2012. The government is levying a tax on U.S. citizens for not buying a service. They argue that since the mandate is an integral part of Obamacare and cannot be severed from it; deeming it unconstitutional and therefore the whole law should be discarded.
This ruling of finding Obama care unconstitutional by the fifth circuit court of appeals is what prompted President Donald Trump to set the tax penalty to zero in Trump’s tax reform law.
Justice Stephen Breyer authored the 7-2 majority opinion stating, the court held:
The Constitution gives federal courts the power to adjudicate only genuine “Cases” and “Controversies.” Art. III, §2. To have standing, a plaintiff must “allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief.” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U. S. 332, 342. No plaintiff has shown such an injury “fairly traceable” to the “allegedly unlawful conduct” challenged here.
Justice’s Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch protested the Court’s decision saying, “Today’s decision is the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as installments one and two. In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the Court has pulled off an improbable rescue.”
Alito wrote: “Texas and the other state plaintiffs have standing, and now that the “tax” imposed by the individual mandate is set at $0, the mandate cannot be sustained under the taxing power. As a result, it is clearly unconstitutional, and to the extent that the provisions of the ACA that burden the States are inextricably linked to the individual mandate, they too are unenforceable.”
Justice Clarence Thomas agreed that defenders of Obamacare essentially have a double standard saying, ““who argued in first instance that the individual coverage mandate is the Act’s linchpin, yet now, in an about-face, contend that it is just a throwaway sentence.” Yet cast his vote with the majority saying, the plaintiffs have not shown how they “personally” were injured by Obamacare and its onerous burdens it places on people and states.
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Full 57 page majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court can be accessed here: