Since Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision to overturn the Affordable Care Act on Friday night, Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned his ruling. Some of the strongest criticism has come from the columnists, editorial pages, and legal scholars that have led the opposition to the ACA.
Philip Klein, Executive Editor Of Washington Examiner: “I Hate Obamacare, But Texas Judge’s Decision On Its Constitutionality Is An Assault On The Rule Of Law.” “I hate Obamacare so much that it’s possible I’ve written more words criticizing it over the past decade than any person alive. I have supported multiple previous legal efforts against the legislation and its implementation. In the fall of 2012, after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, my Halloween costume depicted John Roberts turning into a chicken. If Congress repealed all of Obamacare tomorrow, I’d throw a party. Despite my policy preferences, I’d say the latest decision from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas declaring Obamacare unconstitutional is an assault on the rule of law… What’s happening here is an effort to short-circuit the normal process and implement policy preferences through judicial activism. Embracing unelected judges using shoddy reasoning to impose their policy preferences on the country just when they produce outcomes conservatives agree with would do significant long-term damage to everything conservatives hold dear.” [Washington Examiner, 12/17/18]
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “No One Opposes ObamaCare More Than We Do” But Federal Judge’s Decision “Is Likely To Be Overturned On Appeal And May Boomerang Politically On Republicans.” “No one opposes ObamaCare more than we do, and Democrats are now confirming that it was designed as a way-station to government-run health care. But a federal judge’s ruling Friday that the law is unconstitutional is likely to be overturned on appeal and may boomerang politically on Republicans.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/16/18]
Conservative Legal Scholar Jonathan Adler And Abbe Gluck, Professor Of Health Law At Yale Law School: “This Decision Makes A Mockery Of The Rule Of Law And Basic Principles Of Democracy.” “A ruling this consequential had better be based on rock-solid legal argument. Instead, the opinion by Judge Reed O’Connor is an exercise of raw judicial power, unmoored from the relevant doctrines concerning when judges may strike down a whole law because of a single alleged legal infirmity buried within…We were on opposing sides of the 2012 and 2015 Supreme Court challenges to the Affordable Care Act, and we have different views of the merits of the act itself. But as experts in the field of statutory law, we agree that this decision makes a mockery of the rule of law and basic principles of democracy — especially Congress’s constitutional power to amend its own statutes and do so in accord with its own internal rules.” [New York Times, 12/15/18]
Ilya Somin, George Mason University Law Professor: Judge Was “Badly Wrong” To Declare Entire Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional On Basis Of Individual Mandate. “Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor issued an important ruling in a case brought by twenty GOP-controlled state governments, arguing that the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate is now unconstitutional, because the tax reform bill Congress passed in December 2017 eliminates the monetary penalty for violation. Much more importantly, the states also claim that the rest of the Affordable Care Act must fall with the mandate because it cannot be “severed” from it. Judge O’Connor ruled in favor of the states on both counts. I think he was right on the first issue, but badly wrong on the second.” [Reason, 12/14/18]
Jonathan Adler, Professor Of Law At Case Western Reserve School Of Law: “This Is A Surprising Result, And One That Is Hard To Justify.” “This is a surprising result, and one that is hard to justify…And did I mention standing? The Justice Department somehow neglected to raise standing in its briefing, but Judge O’Connor addressed it nonetheless (as he should have, as Article III standing is jurisdictional). Despite recognizing the need to address standing, Judge O’Connor completely botched the relevant analysis, concluding the plaintiffs have standing to challenge a provision of a law that has no legal effect… However superficially plausible the plaintiff states’ claims initially appear, they melt upon inspection. The more one digs into them, the less substantial they appear.” [Reason, 12/14/18]
Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Blogger At Washington Post: “Susan Collins And Republicans Better Have Better Answers On Obamacare. “Republicans are the proverbial dog who caught the bus. They are to blame if the law, with no alternative, is not revived by a higher court; they are to blame if either by litigation or administrative action those with preexisting conditions are priced out of the market. We just had an election that turned on this precise issue. Democrats overwhelmingly carried the day by accusing Republicans of seeking to sabotage protection for preexisting conditions. Now that Collins, Blunt and others have made a mess, it is up to them to fix it — or face the wrath of the voters in 2020.” [Washington Post, 12/17/18]