The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. How the court might decide the case was a crucial part of Democratic opposition to the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the court last month.
In the cases of California v. Texas and Texas v. California, the court will consider whether the law should be struck down if its “individual mandate” was effectively nullified by Congress in 2017.
In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion that upheld the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate. The Court ruled that the mandate’s penalty for non-compliance was a tax, and thus a lawful requirement of Congress to make on Americans.
The mandate that every American have a health insurance plan—or face a financial penalty—was seen as critical to the law’s implementation and guarantee of affordable health coverage for all.
Republicans in Congress reduced the penalty for not complying with the mandate to zero, but they still kept in place the statutory language of the mandate.