The Department of Justice just made an extraordinary filing in federal court to abandon the defense of a multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare with personal approval from the President.
Twenty Republican Attorneys General filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a conservative Texas federal district court. Those Republican states are seeking to overturn the consumer protections like pre-existing conditions coverage and the essential health benefits that insurers are required to provide by Obamacare which is partly paid for by the individual mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance.
The Post called the Trump Administration’s efforts “a dramatic break from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine” for Obamacare, reporting:
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The Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states who brought the suit [who] contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law are not valid either.
The three-page letter to Pelosi from Attorney General Jeff Sessions begins by saying that Justice adopted its position “with the approval of the President of the United States.”
The letter acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history but contends that it is not unprecedented.
It appears that there was internal resistance to the Department of Justice’s unusual plan to change sides in a lawsuit at the personal direction of President Trump.
Three career DOJ lawyers assigned to the case filed notices of withdrawal tonight, when Attorney General Sessions filed his letter in the case, just minutes before the deadline to take a position.
The Republican states have asked the judge to suspend the ACA immediately, which even Trump’s Department of Justice opposes.
The best summary of the Republicans states’ harmful, circular legal argument in court against Obamacare’s consumer protections is: “now that the GOP Congress has hurt Obamacare’s funding by repealing the individual mandate, a judge should legislate a new funding policy to say that insurers can shaft Americans because Congress refuses to collect the taxes that pay for the benefits.”
Fortunately, there are 17 Democratic state Attorneys General who are still planning to fight the Republican effort to gut Obamacare in the courts.
But there are no guarantees that a federal judge in Texas, who was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, will not make a terrible ruling against America’s healthcare system.
President Trump failed entirely to destroy Obamacare in Congress where these kinds of issues are supposed to be settled, so he launched tonight’s sneak attack, which if successful will kill thousands of Americans to make health insurance companies more profitable.
Following GOP/Trump actions that sparked double digit premium increases, Trump admin now trying to destroy the ACA altogether.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 7, 2018