The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a 7-2 ruling handed down today, knocking down the law’s latest Republican challenge and preserving the ACA and the ability for millions of people with preexisting conditions to have coverage.
The justices ruled that the GOP challengers lacked standing to sue.
More than 20 million Americans now depend on the ACA for their health insurance, and there is broad public support for its requirement that insurance companies must cover preexisting health conditions.
A group of 18 Republican states, led by Texas, focused on the law’s tax penalty meant to induce the purchase of health insurance by most Americans. They argued that President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which zeroed out the penalty, made that provision unconstitutional.
Without the tax penalty, the states argued, the law effectively lost its constitutional footing, and the court should rule it unconstitutional.
But the justices did not even address those issues in their decision.
Justice Stephen Breyer said the states don't have standing to challenge the individual mandate "because they have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to defendants’ conduct enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional."
It was not the first time the health care law was brought before the nation’s highest court.
The Supreme Court first upheld the health care law in 2012. The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts said the individual mandate was a legitimate exercise of Congress's taxing authority.