scotus fight
September 21, 2020

A sizable anti-abortion minority of U.S. voters are excited at the prospect of a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court striking down or effectively neutering Roe v. Wade, but the Affordable Care Act is in much more imminent danger after the death Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 10 in a lawsuit by Texas and other conservative states, backed by the Trump administration, arguing that the entire ACA should be struck down because the GOP-controlled Congress zeroed out the individual mandate to buy insurance in 2017. The lawsuit "was largely shrugged off" when it was filed two years ago, Politico notes, but it has now "been validated by Republican-appointed justices in lower courts, and ObamaCare will have one less ally on the conservative-dominated bench when the Supreme Court considers the law's fate this fall."

"Conventional wisdom had held that Chief Justice John Roberts would likely join with the court's liberals to save the ACA once again," Axios reports. "But if President Trump is able to fill Ginsburg's former seat, Roberts' vote alone wouldn't be enough to do the trick, and the law — or big sections of it — is more likely to be struck down." Most at risk are the law's protections for pre-existing conditions, according to legal scholars following the litigation. But everything is on the table, including Medicaid expansion, coverage for people up to age 26 on their parents' insurance plans, and no-cost preventative care.

"A broad ruling against the entire ACA still requires some logical leaps," Axios notes. But "a lawsuit that once seemed like a long shot now has a much more reasonable chance at success — and that means 20 million people's health coverage really could be in the balance." Trump and congressional Republicans tried and narrowly failed to replace the ACA in 2017, and Trump has yet to release his frequently teased newer health care plan. Peter Weber

September 21, 2020

The White House said Sunday that President Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee soon but will let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) determine the calendar for a potential confirmation vote.

Trying to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, before the election or in the lame-duck session afterward would be a rushed process — and extremely contentious, especially given that McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's nominee in early 2016 on the grounds that voters should decide who gets to pick the nominee in an election year.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), have publicly opposed filing Ginsburg's seat before the next president is chosen, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2016 — suggested in August he would oppose holding hearings if a seat opened up before the election. Four Republicans have to oppose Trump's pick for the nomination to fail. But if McConnell waits until the lame-duck session, that number might fall to three, thanks to Arizona's Senate race.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the Democratic nominee, is leading Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in most or all polls, and if he wins on Nov. 3, he could be sworn in by Nov. 30, NBC News reports. That's because this is actually a special election to fill the seat vacated when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) died. McSally was sent to Congress by Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), not the voters, and state law says the winner of the election will take office once the results are certified. It's possible Ducey or McConnell could try to slow the process if Kelly wins.

Ginsburg's dying wish was for the president inaugurated next January to pick her successor. "But the decision of when to nominate does not lie with her," Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said Sunday. Peter Weber

September 20, 2020

Standing in front of the Brooklyn high school once attended by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Sunday night vowed to fight against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said he will push to have the Senate vote on President Trump's nominee to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

McConnell blocked former President Barack Obama from being able to select a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, claiming it was too soon before the November election. By calling for a quick vote now, when the presidential election is just 44 days away, McConnell is displaying "blatant, nasty hypocrisy," Schumer said. He urged voters to call their senators and tell them "not to listen to Mitch McConnell, not to be afraid of Mitch McConnell."

Ocasio-Cortez said it is "extraordinarily important that we understand the stakes of this vacancy. Our reproductive rights are on the line, our labor rights are on the line, our right to health care is on the line, labor and union protections are on the line, our climate is on the line." A Trump appointment puts "all of our rights, the rights that so many people died for ... at risk," she continued.

People need to "mobilize on an unprecedented scale to ensure that this vacancy is reserved for the next president," Ocasio-Cortez said. She encouraged Americans to call their senators and lawmakers to "use every procedural tool available to us to ensure we buy ourselves the time necessary." Everyone must be "more courageous," she added, and let McConnell know "that he is playing with fire. We need to make sure that this vacancy is protected, that our election continues, and that the American people have their say." Catherine Garcia

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