Supreme Court Won’t Fast Track Obamacare Challenge

Supreme Court Won’t Fast Track Obamacare Challenge January 22, 2020

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court has denied a petition from House Democrats to take up a 5th Circuit case that could overturn Obamacare and take health insurance away from millions of Americans. They did so without explaining why, which is normal for such denials, but it isn’t difficult to think of a good reason why they rejected it.

The argument from the House Democrats was really quite weak. The 5th Circuit ruling, they argued, ““poses a severe, immediate, and ongoing threat to the orderly operation of health-care markets throughout the country.” There are two problems with this argument. The first is that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t actually ruled on the question of whether Obamacare has to be overturned completely. On that question, they remanded the case back to the district court for further consideration. So there is no actual ruling for the Supreme Court to evaluate.

The second seems rather obvious. The case only poses an immediate threat if the Supreme Court ultimately strikes down the full law. Until that point, the status quo remains in place. By asking that such a ruling comes sooner rather than later, they’re actually making that risk more immediate, not less. This way, even if the court does ultimately strike down the law, it will remain in place fora couple more years rather than being gone this year. That’s not trivial to those who use it.

Let’s be honest. The Democrats wanted the case decided during the heart of the general election because they know that either result gave them a powerful argument to use against Trump. Politically that would have been very useful, but legally it’s hard to justify. I don’t imagine even the court’s liberals voting to accept the motion. The fact there is no recorded dissent supports that assumption. Nice try, but not a winning argument.

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