The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to take up another challenge to the Affordable Care Act, leaving the healthcare law known as Obamacare intact but still under legal challenge. They argued that the court's expeditious consideration is necessary because of the uncertainty the lower court's decision has on health insurance and the health care marketplace, as well as for millions of Americans who have purchased coverage under Obamacare (pdf).
A federal appeals court ruled last month that the law's individual mandate runs afoul of the Constitution because it is no longer a tax following President Trump's decision to rearrange his predecessor's program.
In 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress reduced the tax penalty to zero, but failed to make other changes in the law.
A district court judge in Texas found in favor of the plaintiffs, prompting an appeal to the appeals court. The 5th Circuit, in a move that appeared awfully political, recently left the future of the nation's health care system in limbo, sending the case back to the district court, urging the conservative jurist to see if any elements of the law could be salvaged.
"By refusing to expedite the ACA case, the justices are basically saying that they'd rather not decide this case until they absolutely have to - which, depending on how the November elections go, may be never", said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. This ruling is also a win for the Trump Administration ahead of the general election, and a loss for Democrats.
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Attorneys for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn a state appeals court January 14 decision to place the original ruling on hold.
It takes only four votes to take up a case, meaning the court's liberal wing might still have the votes to grant review of the lawsuit.
That review will now continue in the lower courts.
That means the case - which pits a group of blue states led by California, as well as the House of Representatives, against Texas and 18 other GOP-led states' effort to strike down the ACA - is unlikely to be heard by the Supreme Court this term.