Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh may be on the side of the Affordable Care Act.
Supreme Court hearings in a third attempt to overturn the health care law began Tuesday as several Republican attorneys general contended the erasure of ObamaCare's individual mandate invalidated the law entirely. But Kavanaugh seemed skeptical, telling pro-ACA lawyer Donald Verrilli he "tend[s] to agree" that the mandate could simply be removed and the law allowed to stand, reports NBC News.
"I tend to agree with you that this is a very straightforward case for severability under our precedents meaning that we would excise the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place," Kavanaugh said. He later said it was "fairly clear" that precedent allowed for simply cutting out the mandate, questioning the Texas lawyer heading the anti-ACA side on how he can argue around that precedent.
Verrilli is representing the House and Democratic-leaning states in the battle to uphold ObamaCare, as he did previously as former President Barack Obama's solicitor general. Paul Clement, who challenged the law in 2012, told NPR that Tuesday's effort to repeal the ACA "doesn't have any teeth." The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the ACA will continue to function even though the individual mandate, which charges people who did not have health insurance, was removed.
President Trump has made it clear he wants the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and has appointed three justices he hopes will help do so. The Supreme Court has previously rejected efforts to repeal the law in 5-4 and 6-3 votes, but that was before the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the court. Barrett has criticized the decisions in the two previous cases.