Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

DOJ Argues Parts Of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional After Mandate Repeal

DOJ Argues Parts Of Obamacare Are Unconstitutional After Mandate Repeal

Timothy Jost, law professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University in Virginia said the Trump administration is trying to persuade the court to do what it was unable to achieve in Congress previous year - essentially, repeal key parts of the Obama health law.

The decision, announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, is a rare departure from the Justice Department's practice of defending federal laws in court.

Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the lawsuit said that without the individual mandate, Obamacare in its entirety was unlawful.

The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday that the part of Obamacare requiring individuals to have health insurance is unconstitutional, an unusual move that could lead to stripping away some of the most significant and popular parts of the law. In addition, the government doesn't go so far as Texas and its fellow plaintiffs in arguing that the Affordable Care Act and the regulations issued under it are now invalid.

But it said the rest of the law, including Medicaid expansion, can remain in place.

In a brief filed in a federal court in Texas, the department said a tax law signed previous year by President Donald Trump that eliminated penalties for not having health insurance rendered the so-called individual mandate under Obamacare unconstitutional.

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"As you know, the Executive Branch has a longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense", Sessions wrote.

Former President Obama's Justice Department broke with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman in 2011.

Three attorneys for the government withdrew from the case just minutes before the Justice Department's filing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, which signaled an internal rift within the administration over its role in defending US law, according to University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley.

Despite the Justice Department position, the Health and Human Services Department has continued to apply the health law.

The case is Texas v. U.S., 4:18-cv-001 67, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

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