A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday evening that key components of the Affordable Care Act -better known as Obamacare- were unconstitutional; saying the "entire health-care law" violates federal law.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth is nearly guaranteed to go to the Supreme Court. His ruling is expected to be appealed, which means the conservative-majority Supreme Court, with newly appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh, will have a chance to reassess the constitutionality of the law.
"Because rewriting the ACA without its "essential" feature is beyond the power of an Article III court, the court thus adheres to Congress' textually expressed intent and binding Supreme Court precedent to find the individual mandate is inseverable from the ACA's remaining provisions", O'Connor wrote.
In a second tweet, the president declared the ruling to be "great news for America!" In Wisconsin, an incoming Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, campaigned on a promise to withdraw the state from the lawsuit, but Wisconsin's Republican legislature and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker, R, have tried in a lameduck session to block his ability to do that. It agreed that the zeroing out the penalty renders the individual mandate unconstitutional but argued that that invalidates only the law's protections of those with pre-existing conditions.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, reacted harshly to the decision.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".
About 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage since the ACA passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote.
Legal expert Timothy Jost, a supporter of the health law, said O'Connor's ruling would have repercussions for almost all Americans if it stands. California and other states had intervened to defend the 2010 health care law after the Trump administration declined to defend its provisions that guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, arguing that those provisions can not be separated from the mandate.
Preserving the law's protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions proved to be a strong argument for Democrats in the midterm elections. "When House Democrats take the gavel, the House of Representatives will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans' effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act".