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Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Constitutionality – Standing to Sue

United States Supreme Court

Case Name: California, et al., v. Texas, et al.,

Case No.: 19-840; 19-1019

Focus: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Constitutionality – Standing to Sue

As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage. The Act also imposed a monetary penalty, scaled according to income, upon individuals who failed to do so. In 2017, Congress effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount at $0. See Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Pub. L. 115–97, §11081, 131 Stat. 2092 (codified in 26 U. S. C. §5000A(c)). Texas and 17 other States brought this lawsuit against the United States and federal officials. They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz). The plaintiffs claim that without the penalty the Act’s minimum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional. Specifically, they say neither the Commerce Clause nor the Tax Clause (nor any other enumerated power) grants Congress the power to enact it. See U. S. Const., Art. I, §8. They also argue that the minimum essential coverage requirement is not severable from the rest of the Act. Hence, they believe the Act as a whole is invalid. We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them.

Vacated and remanded

Dissenting: ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.

Concurring: THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion.

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Derek A Hawkins is Corporate Counsel, at Salesforce.

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