The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the Republican-backed challenge to the Affordable Care Act before Election Day, according to a new schedule released Monday.
The new calendar shows the justices will spend their next term starting in October hearing the 10 cases left over from the previous one that ended last week and was limited by the coronavirus pandemic.
With those cases left over from the previous term, and no more than five days of arguments scheduled for October, the Trump administration’s challenge to Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate — filed in June — is unlikely to get on the court’s docket.
The justices could decide to take up the case during the week of Nov. 2, but it is unlikely they would choose to do so with a presidential election scheduled for Nov. 3, Politico reported.
The delay of the politically charged case against Obamacare could benefit Republicans in close races by not providing a spotlight for a traditionally Democratic issue.
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Health care helped many House Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, according to Vox, and another high-profile lawsuit could do the same in 2020.
Justices could still adjust their schedule and add more hearings in October, but as of Tuesday, it doesn’t seem likely the Trump administration will have to argue to overturn the individual mandate before the election.
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in a late-night brief filed on June 25, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco and other Justice Department officials argued in the administration’s brief that the requirement for individuals to buy insurance is no longer valid after the penalty for noncompliance was axed by Congress in 2017.
“The individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the act,” the Justice Department wrote in the brief, adding that because it can’t be separated, the entire act should be axed.
“And Congress’s 2017 amendment does not alter the severability analysis because it left intact the critical statutory findings about the interconnectedness of these provisions — findings that were and remain the functional equivalent of an inseverability clause.”
The brief also asks the Supreme Court to overturn the pre-existing condition rules that forbid insurers from turning away customers or charging them more due to factors like age and health status, NBC News reported.
“A global pandemic does not change what Americans know: Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Washington Post after the brief was filed.
“The American people deserve for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis with the president to provide quality, affordable care.”
The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, and has helped about 20 million Americans obtain medical insurance, Reuters reported.
Republicans have long viewed the law as excessive government instruction, and Trump has criticized its costs.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has promised to expand Obamacare, said that if President Donald Trump got his way, those with complications from COVID-19 could be negatively impacted.
“They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: His failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus and his heartless crusade to take health care protections away from American families,” he said during a June news conference.
“It’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s callous.”