By Agence France-Presse
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the US health care law known as Obamacare is unconstitutional — a ruling that opposition Democrats quickly vowed to appeal.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling came on the eve of the Saturday deadline to sign up for 2019 coverage in the federal health care program, known officially as the Affordable Care Act.
The White House said it expects the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court. “Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place,” it said in a statement.
At the US Supreme Court, five justices in the nine-judge court who voted to uphold Obamacare in a separate case in 2012 are still on the bench.
Conservative Republicans have long opposed President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare plan which he signed into law in 2010.
President Donald Trump made abolishing the program one of his main campaign pledges.
The Texas-based judge said that the full Obamacare program was unconstitutional because in last year’s tax overhaul, Congress eliminated a penalty for people who failed to sign up for the program if they did not already have their own health insurance.
The 2012 case was over whether such a penalty was legal — but now that it is gone, O’Connor says the whole Affordable Care Act should be stricken down because that provision is “the keystone” of the program.
President Trump lost no time in tweeting his delight at the court’s ruling on a complaint brought by several Republican attorneys general and two Republican governors.
“Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” Trump wrote on twitter.
“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” he said.
Trump urged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic House of Representatives speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi to “pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare.”