Consolidated Case: 19-840 CALIFORNIA V. TEXAS and 19-1019 TEXAS V. CALIFORNIA (2020-November-10)


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As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congress adopted 26 U.S.C. § 5000A. Section 5000A provided that "applicable individual[s] shall" ensure that they are "covered under minimum essential coverage," 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(a); required any "taxpayer" who did not obtain such coverage to make a "[s]hared responsibility payment," id.§ 5000A(b); and set the amount of that payment, id.
§ 5000A(c). In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519, 574 (2012), this Court held that Congress lacked the power to impose a stand-alone command to purchase health insurance but upheld Section 5000A as a whole as an exercise of Congress's taxing power, concluding that it affords individuals a "lawful choice" between buying health insurance or paying a tax in the amount specified in Section 5000A(c). In 2017, Congress set that amount at zero but retained the remaining provisions of the ACA.
The questions presented are:
  1. Whether the individual and state plaintiffs in this case have established Article III standing to challenge the minimum coverage provision in Section 5000A(a).
  2. Whether reducing the amount specified in Section 5000A(c) to zero rendered the minimum coverage provision unconstitutional.
  3. If so, whether the minimum coverage provision is severable from the rest of the ACA.

Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (Mar. 23, 2010), with the express goal of achieving near universal health-insurance coverage. To achieve that goal, Congress found it was "essential" to require healthy Americans to ensure that they have what Congress considered minimum essential coverage. In 2012, this Court held that "[t]he Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance." Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius ("NFIB"), 567 U.S. 519, 575 (2012) (op. of Roberts, C.J.). The Court upheld the minimum-essential-coverage requirement, however, because it was "fairly possible" to construe the mandate as a tax. Id. at 574. In 2017, Congress eliminated that alternative construction by zeroing out any penalty. That legislative act rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, as the court below correctly held.
The Court should deny the petitions in Nos. 19-840 and 19-841. But if it grants them, it should grant this conditional cross-petition, as well, which presents the following questions:
  1. Whether the unconstitutional individual mandate to purchase minimum essential coverage is severable from the remainder of the ACA.
  2. Whether the district court properly declared the ACA invalid in its entirety and unenforceable any-where.
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