RED ALERT: Texas Fold'Em Oral Arguments happening NOW


UPDATE 11am: So far it looks like Colin Seeberger of the Center for American Progress is the only one posting live/semi-live updates on the #TexasFoldEm proceedings:

  • 2:24pm (via Noam Levey): For ACA followers, there was no injunction issued for the bench today in Texas v. Azar, but lots of questions from the judge about how much of ACA should stand. Story to come.
  • 2:24pm: (via Josh Dorner): The Trump DOJ admitted in federal court today that the Texas-led lawsuit could sabotage insurance markets if they get their way: "There could be the potential for chaos in the insurance markets," said Brett Shumate, a deputy assistant attorney general.
  • 1:28pm: O’Connor seemed very skeptical of the [last intent] argument, with a back and forth over Frost, Booker, and Murphy, and discussion of what he should do if the law was amended again, etc.
  • 1:18pm: Judge O'Connor hammered CA on why he should look at the congressional intent in the tax bill as opposed to ACA text on if the mandate is essential to the law. CA, rightly, noted that ACA says the mandate was essential in "creating" markets, not their maintenance.
  • 12:57pm: BREAKING: North TX District Court Judge expresses sympathy for lawsuit brought by 20 Republican AGs to strike down the #ACA. #ProtectOurCare #TXvUS #KavanaughHearings
  • 11:45am: via Topher Spiro, also of CAP: BREAKING: During arguments on the lawsuit against pre-existing conditions, the Trump administration just acknowledged that people would lose coverage and there would be confusion....The Trump administration was forced to admit this when seeking a delay in an injunction until after the November elections. They want to hide the effects until after the elections. (We have a source inside the courtroom.)
  • 11:24am: CA lawyers arguing correctly — citing Hatch, Scott, & Alexander — that intent of #GOPTaxScam's zeroing out of the mandate wasn’t intended to impact the rest of #ACA. #TXvUS
  • 10:59am: .@TheJusticeDept just admitted in court that the lawsuit brought by 20 REPUBLICAN AGs would cause many to lose coverage. Why are you doing this @HawleyMO @MorriseyWV? #MOSEN #WVSEN #TXvUS
  • 10:55am: WOW. @TheJusticeDept in North TX Federal Court tries to begin its argument saying that they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions. THEN WHY ARE YOU IN COURT ARGUING FOR THEM TO BE THROWN OUT?!?! #ProtectOurCare #TXvUS #StopKavanaugh #KavanaughHearings
  • 10:30am: LIVE FROM THE TX COURTROOM: Texas lawyers are arguing that a national injunction would “free Congress” (and the states) to act to reform health care. Last I checked, nothing is stopping them. #TXvUS #KavanaughHearings #SCOTUS #ProtectOurCare

I know, I know...I've explained this (and posted the graphic below) several times already, but with the actual oral arguments about to kick off in federal court this morning, I figured I should lay it out one more time:

  1. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ACA's individual mandate penalty was Constitutional.
  2. They ruled it was Constitutional because they consider it to be a tax, which Congress has the right to impose.
  3. In 2017, Congressional Republicans changed the amount of the ACA individual mandate from $695 (or 2.5% of income) to $0 (or 0.0% of income).
  4. In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), along with 19 other Republican Attorneys General and Governors, sued the federal government.
  5. The 20 GOP Attorneys General/Governors claim that the entire ACA is Unconstitutional because Congressional Republicans reset the mandate penalty to $0.
  6. They claim that if the tax is $0, it no longer counts as a tax, and that since there's no longer a tax, the mandate is no longer valid, and therefore the rest of the ACA is invalid as well and must be struck down as being Unconstitutional.
  7. That's their entire case.
  8. Yes, I'm serious.
  9. Even Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler--one of the architects of the LAST high-profile anti-ACA case to make it to the Supreme Court--has stated that this case has zero merit whatsoever.
  10. Donald Trump's Justice Department, which is supposed to defend against cases like this, instead instructed their attorneys to effectively throw the case.
  11. Four Justice Department attorneys, including one who's high-ranking and highly-respected, have either withdrawn from the case or resigned in protest.
  12. The plaintiffs want the entire law thrown out, but "would settle" for the Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating provisions being thrown out.
  13. The Trump Administration wants, Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating provisions thrown out.
  14. Guaranteed Issue = Insurance carriers have to offer policies to everyone regardless of medical history/condition.
  15. Community Rating = Insurance carriers can't charge people more based on their medical history/condition.
  16. Seventeen Democratic Attorneys General have instead stepped up to defend the ACA in federal court.
  17. This means that the case is now between 20 Republican Attorneys General and 18 Democratic Attorneys General.
  18. Meanwhile, healthcare coverage for tens of millions of people once again hang in the balance.

Here's the 20 Republican Attorneys General & Governors who filed the case to repeal the ACA:

Here's the 17 Democratic Attorneys General who are defending the ACA:

If 18 steps is still too wordy, here it is in 4 steps: