The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a motion from a coalition of Democrat-led states asking the justices to speed up the review of a federal appeals court decision that put the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in doubt.
That means the case – which pits a group of blue states led by California, as well as the House of Representatives, against Texas and 18 other GOP-led states’ effort to strike down the ACA – is unlikely to be heard by the Supreme Court this term.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled that the individual mandate, a key funding mechanism for the law, was unconstitutional now that Congress eliminated a financial penalty for not having health insurance — making it impossible to say the individual mandate is a tax. It sent the case to a lower court, asking it to rule on whether the rest of the ACA, also known as ObamaCare, could stand without the individual mandate.
“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the ruling said. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”
The coalition led by California and its Attorney General Xavier Becerra was trying to get the Supreme Court to circumvent the lower courts and rule on the case directly – and immediately – because “the lower courts’ actions have created uncertainty about the future of the entire Affordable Care Act, and that uncertainty threatens adverse consequences on our Nation’s healthcare system, including for patients, doctors, insurers, and state and local governments.”
Tuesday’s ruling was simply on the motion for expedited consideration of the petition, not on the petition itself, which means the Supreme Court could still hear the case as the blue states are asking it to. It just means that if the court agrees to hear the case, it most likely won’t be until October at the earliest.
In the meantime, the case will continue in district court, with that court’s ruling almost certainly being appealed by the party that loses. It is unclear, however, when or whether the Supreme Court will decide to hear this case and rule on the ACA’s constitutionality.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.