Barrett refuses to say if she would recuse herself from ObamaCare case


Judge Amy Coney Barrett refused to say on Tuesday if she would recuse herself from an upcoming Supreme Court case that could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

When asked by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about stepping back from the case before the court on Nov. 10, Barrett noted that there were rules about when a judge would recuse themselves from a case.

“That’s not a question that I could answer in the abstract,” Barrett told Graham. 

Democrats have called on Barrett to recuse herself from the upcoming case, given her previous criticism of the 2012 ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice Roberts has gotten fierce criticism from conservatives for ruling with the liberal wing and writing the majority opinion. 

“This nominee comes before us with serious conflicts of interest and we’re here today to say that given Judge Barrett’s conflicts of interest she should recuse herself from any decision involving the Affordable Care Act,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference in New York over the weekend. 

Democrats have pointed to a law review article by Barrett in 2017 — in which she criticized Roberts’s reasoning — as evidence of her hostility to the health care law, though she has never said directly how she would rule on the issue that will be heard by the court on Nov. 10

Democrats have put health care at the center of the Supreme Court fight, arguing that Barrett would provide a sixth vote to strike down the health care law, even though some legal experts say the challengers will likely find it difficult to strike it in its entirety.

The challengers, a group of more than a dozen Republican states, argue that President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts effectively rendered a key provision of ObamaCare unconstitutional and therefore the entire health law should be struck down.

The GOP challengers note that the law’s original design depended on a requirement that most people purchase insurance, and set up a tax penalty for noncompliance. But the Trump tax cuts zeroed-out the penalty on the federal level, which, according to the litigants, should cause the whole ObamaCare structure to collapse.

Trump has pledged a health care replacement if the court strikes down the law, but Republicans, despite several years of debate, have been unable to unite behind and pass a replacement plan. 

“Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court. Would be a big WIN for the USA!” Trump tweeted late last month.

In addition to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are expected to press Barrett during her Supreme Court hearing to recuse herself from any election-related cases that could decide the November presidential contest due to her nomination being made by President Trump, who is up for reelection.

— John Kruzel contributed. 

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Lindsey Graham ObamaCare

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