Court questions whether blue states have standing to seek to uphold ObamaCare

Court questions whether blue states have standing to seek to uphold ObamaCare
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A federal appeals court is asking the parties in a high-profile case pushing to overturn ObamaCare whether blue states have standing to seek to uphold the health law.

The statement from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued Wednesday asks whether a coalition of blue states and the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives have standing to appeal a lower court ruling that struck down ObamaCare as unconstitutional.

In order to bring a lawsuit, a party has to have legal standing, meaning they are sufficiently affected by the issue at hand in order to seek relief from a court.

Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote on Twitter that the statement from the court is an “ominous sign” for ObamaCare.

If neither the blue states, led by California, nor the U.S. House have standing to appeal, then it is possible no one could appeal the lower court ruling from a conservative judge in Texas that struck down the entire Affordable Care Act. 

The blue states and the House could then take their case to the Supreme Court, but they would have to argue the standing issue there as well.

The underlying lawsuit against ObamaCare, brought by GOP-led states and supported by the Trump administration, is viewed by a wide range of legal experts in both parties as having very weak legal arguments.

Democrats have been pounding the drum that the GOP lawsuit threatens health coverage for 20 million people, while Republican lawmakers have largely sought to avoid talking about the lawsuit as they seek to turn the page on ObamaCare repeal efforts. 

Legal experts have long thought that the case will not ultimately succeed, that even if the 5th Circuit affirms the lower court ruling striking down the health law from a conservative judge, that the Supreme Court — which has twice upheld ObamaCare already in different cases — would not strike down the law this time either.

But the latest development adds a new question mark to a case hanging over the health care system.

The 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case on July 9. Wednesday's order calls for the parties to file briefs on the standing question within seven days and to be prepared to discuss the issue at oral arguments.