The Supreme Court ruled that the health care act, better known as Obamacare, was constitutional, despite arguments otherwise from Republican-led states

By Julie Mazziotta
June 17, 2021
Protesters outside the Supreme Court push to uphold the Affordable Care Act
| Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

The Affordable Care Act is constitutional and will remain in place, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, after Republican-led states tried to eliminate the act for the third time.

In a 7 to 2 decision, the court determined that challengers of the act, better known as Obamacare, did not have the legal standing to sue. They had said that the requirement under the act to have health insurance lest they pay an income tax penalty, what's known as the individual mandate, was unconstitutional.

But the Supreme Court decided that they had not proven that the individual mandate had harmed Americans, and that the act should remain in place. The two dissenters were Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

The seven justices who voted to uphold the ACA said that individual mandate could not hurt Americans because Congress has since reduced the penalty for not getting health insurance to zero.

"For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants' conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. "They have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act's minimum essential coverage provision."

After the Supreme Court's decision, President Joe Biden tweeted that "With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it's here to stay," in reference to his hot-mic moment as vice president when the act was first signed in 2010, and he told then-President Barack Obama that it was a "big f---ing deal."

The Department of Health and Human Services said earlier this month that more Americans than ever, 31 million, now receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

However, Republican-led states have now challenged the act in the Supreme Court three times, in 2012, 2017 and now 2021.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the court's decision was "a victory for all Americans, especially people with a preexisting condition or anyone who was worried they could be forced to choose between their health and making ends meet."

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