President Trump has made clear that the litmus test for picking a Supreme Court nominee is the future justice’s intent to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Amy Coney Barrett passes this test with flying colors, having criticized both major rulings that upheld the ACA. On Sunday, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to his lawsuit to overturn the health care law — which would rip coverage away from more than 20 million Americans and eliminate protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions in the middle of a global pandemic — and his confidence in a victory if Barrett is seated. And that’s not even the first time he has said opposition to the ACA is nonnegotiable when selecting his judicial appointments.
Trump Has Repeatedly Promised to Appoint Judges Who Will Overturn the ACA
As far back as 2015, Donald Trump promised that “my judicial appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.” The Republican party platform for 2016 and 2020 clearly states that GOP-appointed judges will “reverse the long line of activist decisions – including Roe, Obergefell, and the Obamacare cases” and while running for president in 2016, Trump assailed Roberts’ rulings calling him a “nightmare for Conservatives” who “gave us Obamacare, almost as much as Obama himself.”
Trump continues to stand by his promise to “terminate health care under Obamacare” by pursuing a lawsuit that could overturn the entire law to the Supreme Court. Trump has also said that he is “looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.” The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opposed the ACA repeatedly, famously dubbing the law “SCOTUSCare.”
Within hours of nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Trump tweeted again about his hopes of overturning the ACA, saying “Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court. Would be a big WIN for the USA!” The next day, Trump called Obamacare “terrible” and doubled-down on his goal of overturning the law: “‘If we can end Obamacare and come up with a much better health-care system that’s much cheaper and much better, which is what we’ll do.”
Two Republican Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Are Openly Rooting for Judge Barrett to Overturn the ACA
Senator Mike Lee told George Stephanopolus on ABC’s “This Week” that he hoped Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination would lead to the court declaring the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. “I believe the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional when it was enacted. It was unconstitutional when it was litigated in 2012. The fact that Congress chose to enact an unconstitutional law shouldn’t tarnish Judge Barrett in this. Her job is to figure out whether it’s unconstitutional or not,” Lee said.
Senator Ted Cruz Cruz claimed that it would not be a problem for Amy Coney Barrett and the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, because Republicans would immediately act to protect pre-existing conditions. “Every Republican agrees we’re going to protect preexisting conditions,” Cruz said, while criticizing Democrats for trying to make Barrett’s nomination into a referendum on health care. “What they’re talking about is what they think politically resonates, but 100 out of 100 senators agree we’re going to protect preexisting conditions regardless of what happens with Obamacare.”