Texas Fold'em: To the shock of no one, SCOTUS won't decide the fate of the ACA until AFTER the election.

Back in March I noted that while the U.S. Supreme Court has indeed agreed to hear the Texas Fold'Em lawsuit to strike down the Affordable Care Act (aka "Texas vs. Azar", aka "Texas vs. U.S.", aka "CA vs. TX") sometime this fall, the odds of actually getting a final decision in the case from SCOTUS before the November election (or even before either Trump or Biden are sworn into office in January) is extremely unlikely:

The ACA case was granted. It will be heard this coming term.

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

#SCOTUS grants petition filed by California & other states, as well as petition filed by Texas on whether individual mandate can be separated from rest of ACA. Argument is likely in the fall, w/decision to follow by June 2021.

— Amy Howe (@AHoweBlogger) March 2, 2020

We don't know when the case will be heard. Maybe Oct, maybe Nov. But the difference could be huge politically. On the eve of the election, Trump won't want public attention drawn to his argument that the courts should end protections for people w/ pre-existing conditions.

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

Last month, I noted that October was definitely out of the running, leaving only two possible days on which oral arguments could be heard before the general election: November 2nd or 3rd (election day itself).

Well, now we have the date locked in, via Bloomberg News Supreme Court reporter Greg Stohr:

BREAKING: Supreme Court will hear Obamacare arguments on Nov. 10, a week after the election, per online docket.

— Greg Stohr (@GregStohr) August 19, 2020

Annnnd there you have it.

On the one hand, this means Trump/the GOP get to avoid having their lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act being the top story of the day just ahead of the election. I mean, it'll still be a top issue and Dems will be shouting about it from the rooftops, but at least the oral arguments themselves won't be happening just hours or days before the polls close.

On the other hand, this also means Democrats will just slightly shift the wording of their attack ads.

More importantly, while the timing of the hearing is vital politically, the timing of the decision is more important for practical reasons, because, as I noted in March:

If the Democrats flip the Senate and retake the White House, I believe they could pass and sign a bill as soon as January 20th, 2021 resetting the mandate penalty back to $695/2.5%...or even as little as $1.00 if they wanted to. Doing that should instantly make the entire case null and void...and while I'm not an expert on how the filibuster or reconciliation works, I think they could do so with as few as 50 Senate votes (assuming a Democratic Vice-President acting as a tie-breaker). The 2017 tax bill which zeroed out the penalty was passed without 60 Senate votes, after all.

Alternately, they could pass a bill stripping out the mandate language itself, although I think that would require 60 votes.

As Nicholas Bagley noted last spring...

Regardless of the date of oral argument, the Democratic candidate will -- and should! -- use this case to bludgeon President Trump at every turn. For better or worse, health care is the #1 issue for most voters. https://t.co/Ou4jHa16RS

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

And this lawsuit is the cleanest, easiest way to explain to voters that the Trump administration is lying through its teeth when it says that it supports protections for people with preexisting conditions. https://t.co/eOFGChyUzl

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

Every debate, every stump speech, every commercial, for eight months. "The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to rip away your protections when you get sick." And to do so in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic too! Politically, it's a gift to Democrats.

— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) March 2, 2020

The only thing which has changed is that "eight months" is now down to "76 days".