TN attorney general joins new Republican-led lawsuit seeking to end Obamacare

Republican attorneys general in 20 states, including Tennessee, have filed a new lawsuit asking the courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act, reports WPLN. The lawsuit filed in Texas on Monday contends that without the individual mandate, Obamacare is unconstitutional.

States have already taken a case against Obamacare to the Supreme Court, arguing that the government can’t make citizens buy insurance. The high court narrowly decided in 2012 that because the individual mandate was enforced through a tax penalty, it was allowed.

But the tax cut package signed into law by President Trump zeros out the penalty for people who don’t buy insurance. So Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the mandate is no longer a tax at all — which means, while it has no teeth, it is now unconstitutional, in Slatery’s view.

Press release from Tennessee’s Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has joined a coalition of 20 States asking a federal district court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care (ACA) unconstitutional and to enjoin the entire law.

“The lawsuit filed today explains that in 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the core provision of the ACA—the individual mandate—because the Court viewed ACA’s penalty for not complying with the individual mandate as a ‘tax.’  But now, with the recent passage of its tax reform package—the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017—Congress has repealed this tax, while leaving the mandate in place.  Since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the individual mandate on Americans without invoking its taxing authority, the repeal of the tax renders the individual mandate unconstitutional.  And, since the ACA is dependent on the individual mandate, the ACA itself is now unconstitutional,” said Attorney General Slatery.

The coalition’s complaint was filed in federal district court in Texas. In addition to Tennessee, other states participating are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Note: The San Antonio Express News has a story on the lawsuit written by Andrea Zelinski, who was a Tennessee Capitol Hill reporter — for the Nashville Post and Nashville Scene, among others — before moving to Texas. It’s HERE.

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