Department of Justice attorneys are seeking a delay in an ongoing Obamacare lawsuit, citing their prohibition from working during the partial government shutdown.
A response to House Democrats’ motion to intervene in the case is due in federal court on Jan. 24.
“Although the Federal Defendants would like to be heard before the Court rules on the Motion, they are unable to prepare their opposition at this time due to the lapse in appropriations,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt in court papers filed on Friday, CNN reported.
Last month, Texas-based federal district court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, due to the removal of the financial penalty in individual mandate as part of the Republican tax law passed in December 2017, according to The New York Times.
O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, said the individual mandate “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power.”
In a 5-to-4 ruling in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the Affordable Care Act, based on Congress’ power to tax, which the justices in the majority determined the individual mandate’s financial penalty to be.
In response to O’Connor’s decision striking down Obamacare, House Democrats officially filed a motion last week to intervene in the case that was brought by 20 GOP-led states.
The filing notes the House “has a unique institutional interest in participating in this litigation to defend the (Affordable Care Act) against the remaining challenges, and intervention should be granted,” The Hill reported.
“The House disagrees with the Attorney General’s position, which (if enforced) would erase in significant part the statute that Congress enacted, and the House is prepared to argue against this position in any relevant additional proceedings in this Court and on appeal,” the filing further states.
The Trump administration’s DOJ has chosen not the defend the law and opposes the motion to allow House Democrats to intervene.
Last month, President Donald Trump heralded O’Connor’s ruling striking down Obamacare.
“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” Trump tweeted.
“Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!”
As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2018
The Hill reported last week that a coalition of Democratic states defending Obamacare filed a formal notice to appeal O’Connor’s decision with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which House Democrats are seeking to join.
According to The Times, enrollment for Obamacare was down 12 percent from Nov. 1 (when open enrollment began) to Dec. 8 compared to the same period in 2017.
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