In the midst of a global pandemic with the presidential election just months away, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care law that enabled millions of Americans to get insurance coverage and that remains in effect despite the pending legal challenge.
In a late-night filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that once the law's individual coverage mandate and two key provisions are invalidated, "the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect."
The justices will hear arguments in the case sometime next term, although it is unclear if they will occur before the November election.
A partisan conflict: The dispute ensures another major shift in the political landscape during the election season on an issue that has dominated American politics for the last decade. It will be the third time the court has heard a significant challenge to the law. The case pits a coalition of Democratic attorneys general led by California and the House of Representatives, which are defending the law, against the Trump administration and a group of red state attorneys general led by Texas.
What it's all about: At issue is whether the law's individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional because Congress reduced the penalty for remaining uninsured to zero and, if so, whether that would bring down the entire law.
A federal appeals court in December ruled that the mandate was unconstitutional but punted the decision on which, if any, of the law's provisions could be retained back to the district court -- which had previously found the entire law to be invalidated.
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