Ginsburg Death Could Spell Trouble for Affordable Care Act

On November 10, the Supreme Court is slated to reconsider Obamacare’s legal standing

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday night at 87. As a feminist icon and revered jurist, RBG’s death was devastating for many, but it also raised some cold hard political questions about the court’s future makeup. 

Big picture: Ginsburg’s death leaves the court with five conservative-leaning justices and three liberal ones. President Trump said Saturday that he’ll nominate a replacement this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a confirmation vote. 

  • Democrats responded with a resounding “Oh, that’s rich,” pointing to McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to hold a hearing for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year. 

Trump has pledged to nominate a woman—possibly Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa, or Allison Jones Rushing, according to reports. You can read up on them here

One upcoming case looms especially large: The ACA 

Aka Obamacare. On Nov. 10, one week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit against the healthcare law—a group of Republican-led states is trying to get the ACA thrown out. 

  • Their argument? A provision in the 2017 tax cuts repealed the ACA’s individual mandate penalty (the fine for not having health insurance), so they argue the whole enchilada should be thrown out on grounds of unconstitutionality. 
  • Even if Trump announces an appointee ASAP, it’s unlikely she’ll be confirmed and robed up by the 10th. So with an eight-justice court, a 4-4 tie is possible, in which case it’ll be sent back to lower courts. 

Zoom out: The Biden campaign is adding the ACA fight to its healthcare-forward message, focusing on Trump’s handling of the pandemic and Biden’s role in getting the ACA passed in the first place. Democratic operatives say healthcare was a winning issue in the 2018 midterms and has only become more potent now that every stray cough is cause for concern. 

Via Morning Brew

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