Sixteen Democratic states took an interesting tack on health care in Louisiana. Of course, they support the Affordable Care Act and defend it to the best of their abilities. Yet, Donald Trump has been actively working to tear down every last one of President Barack Obama’s accomplishments in ongoing fits of pique. The sitting president and Republicans are currently trying to severely cut Medicare Part D, prescriptions for older people and those with disabilities. Yet, no one expected what the Democrats did next.
Democrats asked Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick, a President George W. Bush appointee who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for two special privileges. The first ask was to expedite an appeal of the lower court’s decision calling ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act/ACA) unconstitutional.
They also asked Judge Southwick to allow a coalition of 16 Democratic states and the District of Columbia to act as defendants in the case. Twenty Republican states brought the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s viability.
Southwick did agree to the Democrats’ second request, however.
This started when a Texas federal district court judge ruled that the individual mandate in the ACA was unconstitutional. This referred to the point in ObamaCare that said everyone needed to have insurance. The health insurance plan works much like car insurance for drivers. If the state of Louisiana did away with the individual mandate, that would be like good drivers being able to drive without automobile insurance.
The good drivers would not know whether they would be in an accident, say a tree falls on a car. The same goes for the individual mandate. After all, young people do get sick. They can be more active and hurt themselves that way, so they do indeed need health insurance.
The judge not only declared the individual mandate unconstitutional, he said it was non-severable from the rest of the law. The legal term “non-severable” refers to a law where parts of it should be illegal or unenforceable, the rest of it remains legal and enforceable.
The White House also took part in the Republican states’ suit. The Democrats claimed that by doing so, Trump’s administration made room for them to intercede:
‘Indeed, federal law provides that the Attorney General has a right to intervene in litigation to defend the constitutionality of an Act of Congress, and it empowers the House and/or the Senate to intervene to defend a statute on the rare occasions in which the Attorney General fails to do so.’
Judge Southwick felt that the House’s argument was insufficient. However, under federal law he said the court might “benefit from the participation” of the House:
‘In the absence of any other federal governmental party in the case presenting a complete defense to the Congressional enactment at issue, this court may benefit from the participation by the House. In the context of this case, the motion to intervene was not untimely. Further, intervention will not unduly delay or prejudice the rights of the original parties.’
The Democrats argued:
‘The ACA restructured nearly one-fifth of the nation’s economy, and is a central pillar of our healthcare system. A wide range of fiscal, regulatory, and individual decisions depend on the outcome of this appeal.’
The judge denied their request without any further discussion.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.