The Affordable Care Act Back at the Supreme Court

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This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in California v. Texas—a recent lawsuit bringing another challenge to the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA as constitutional exercise of Congress’s taxing power; but Congress in 2017 eliminated the individual mandate which served as a basis for the tax rationale—and a group of states and individual plaintiffs sued to challenge the law’s validity once again. This episode recaps the arguments and how the justices—including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose faced many questions about the ACA during her confirmation hearings— reacted to the arguments on both sides. Host Jeffrey Rosen was joined by two experts on the Affordable Care Act and the Constitution: Abbe Gluck of Yale Law School, author of The Trillion Dollar Revolution: How the Affordable Care Act Transformed Politics, Law, and Health Care in America, and Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute, author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution.

Some terms that will be helpful to know for this week:

  • Standing: the ability of a person or party to bring a lawsuit in court. For instance, if the person who brings the lawsuit has suffered some “injury” or will be likely to suffer an injury if a particular wrong is not remedied, they may have standing to bring the case.
  • Severability: a legal principle that allows an unconstitutional or unenforceable provision or part of law to be “severed” out from the rest of the law, leaving the remaining parts of the law intact and in force.

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