The Justice Department reversed course from its Trump-era position and asked the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare on Wednesday, The New York Times reports.
The DOJ under Trump filed a brief to the Supreme Court urging the court to strike down the law but new DOJ leadership under President Joe Biden told the court that it is now backing the law.
“Following the change in administration,” Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said in the letter, “the Department of Justice has reconsidered the government’s position in these cases. The purpose of this letter is to notify the court that the United States no longer adheres to the conclusions in the previously filed brief of the federal respondents.”
Biden admin argues law is constitutional:
The court is reviewing the case after it already heard arguments last year. The case is premised on the idea that the court previously upheld the law because the individual mandate was a tax but Republicans say it should be struck down after Congress lowered the mandate penalty to $0.
“Rather than imposing a new burden on covered individuals,” Kneedler wrote, “the 2017 amendment preserved the choice between lawful options and simply eliminated any financial or negative legal consequence from choosing not to enroll in health coverage.”
Regardless of the mandate, he said, the rest of the law is severable from the provision.
“Because oral argument was held and these cases were submitted three months ago, and because other parties have fully briefed both sides of the questions presented,” he wrote, “the United States is not requesting supplemental briefing.”
Ruling expected by June:
The court is expected to hand down its decision before the summer.
Some Trump appointees on the court expressed reservations about the Republican-led lawsuit and appeared unlikely to strike down the entire law, though they could issue a narrower decision.
A full repeal would likely leave more than 20 million people uninsured and scrap protections for people with pre-existing conditions.