Unverifiable: Amy Coney Barret will vote to repeal Obamacare.

By: Ranjini K
October 15 2020

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Unverifiable: Amy Coney Barret will vote to repeal Obamacare.


The Verdict Unverifiable

Amy Coney Barret has been critical of ACA but it is unknown if she thinks it is legally sound to repeal the law.

Claim ID 6473d8df
Amy Coney Barret has been critical of ACA but it is unknown if she thinks it is legally sound to repeal the law.US President Donald Trump nominated judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, and she could succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18. Since her nomination, many fear that she would vote to repeal Obamacare if elected to the Supreme Court. In 2012, Barrett added her name to a letter written by several prominent conservative leaders criticizing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception mandate, requiring employee plans within the exchanges to cover contraception methods and counseling for all women. The letter states, “This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.” Since 2010, ACA has been challenged twice, and the supreme court has left the ACA largely intact and introduced a few minor changes to the law. In 2017, Congress refused to repeal the ACA, but it agreed to eliminate the individual mandate by setting the penalty for noncompliance at zero. A key challenge that centered around the ACA was the constitutionality of the requirement that all individuals obtain health coverage or else pay the penalty. The court found in 2012 that this “individual mandate” exceeded congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. But the court, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., ruled that the penalty, collected by the Internal Revenue Service, constituted a tax and was, therefore, a legitimate exercise of the congressional taxing power. In 2017, when Barrett was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, she wrote in a law review essay, “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.” She further wrote, “Had he treated the payment as the statute did -- as a penalty -- he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.” After the 2017 ruling of Congress, lawyers from Texas claimed that by zeroing out the tax penalty, Congress had somehow managed to repeal the entire law. They said that the only thing that saved the law’s constitutionality was interpreting the penalty as a tax. With that tax eliminated, the individual mandate was still technically on the books and was unconstitutional. They further said that due to this, the entire law had to be repealed as the mandate could not be severed from the rest of the law. However, the House of Representatives argued in its Supreme Court brief, that Texas’s argument “bears little connection to reality.” Barrett has been critical of the ACA, but it is unknown if she thinks it is legally sound to repeal the law simply because the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional. Barret replied to Democrats on the second day of her Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing that she was not hostile to ACA and said that the issue in the case is this doctrine of severability, and she had never talked about with respect to the Affordable Care Act.

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