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Analysis

SCOTUS Denies Fast-track Hearing of Texas v. U.S.

By John Commins  
   January 21, 2020

The ruling means the case would not reach the Supreme Court until this fall, at the earliest.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday shot down a request by a coalition of 20 states for a fast-track review of a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

The California-led coalition of attorneys general defending the Affordable Care Act had asked the high court for an expedited review of the Fifth Circuit Court's ruling last month that sent Texas v. U.S. back to the trial judge.

The one-sentence denial means the case could go back-and-forth between the trial court and the appeals court for much of the year, and be heard by the Supreme Court in October, just weeks ahead of the presidential election.

A spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would not comment on the ruling.

In a Twitter post, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said: “We hope that the Court will grant review of our defense of the ACA because the lower court’s decision is wrong and creates uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act. The health and wellbeing of millions of our loved ones who rely on the ACA for healthcare is too important. We will do everything in our power to keep fighting for them."

New York Attorney General Letitia James, one of 20 AGs defending the ACA, said that, while the Supreme Court refused to expedite its review, it could still hear arguments during its next term, which begins in October. If that occurs, the high court could rule on the case by July, 2021.

"Day after day, President Trump makes false statements, sends misleading tweets, and spouts outright lies about Obamacare and the many protections the law has provided to millions across the country," James said in a media release.

In a 2–1 decision December 18, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that the ACA's individual mandate is unconstitutional, but it sent the rest of the expansive law back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas for a more detailed analysis of which ACA provisions, if any, should be severed from the mandate and upheld.

ACA defenders howled at the ruling. Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach said the delay means that "Donald Trump and the Republican Party have succeeded in their quest to spare themselves the political consequences of their effort to take away health care from 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions."

"Instead, the healthcare millions of Americans remains under attack and the same judge who already declared the entire law null and void will remain in the driver’s seat,” Dach said.

“Donald Trump and the Republican Party have succeeded in their quest to spare themselves the political consequences of their effort to take away health care from 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

A California-led coalition defending the ACA had asked the high court for an expedited review of the Fifth Circuit Court's ruling last month that sent Texas v. U.S. back to the trial judge.

The ruling means the case could go back-and-forth between the trial court and the appeals court for the rest of the year.

SCOTUS still could still hear arguments during its next term, which begins in October, and could rule on the case by July, 2021.


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