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The constitutional fight against Obamacare goes back to federal appeals court

After this, the case could go to the Supreme Court

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Obamacare is facing a new legal challenge today, this time before federal judges in New Orleans.

What's the story?

This challenge is all about the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, or the tax penalty for those who decide not to have health insurance. This was intended to pressure healthy people to buy insurance policies in order to offset the cost of people with more medical bills. From the beginning, Republicans have protested this idea.

While they haven't been able to get rid of the mandate itself altogether, Republicans in 2017 eliminated the penalty for defying it. The legality of the mandate was then challenged by states, including Texas in court in February 2018. A federal district judge ruled in favor of the states, but now the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will take up the case.

The district judge specifically looked at how the Supreme Court in 2012 said that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional because it falls under Congress' power to levy taxes. Since these taxes have been eliminated, the judge said, this ruling no longer applied.

The Justice Department under Trump has said that "the balance of the ACA … must be struck down.

What else?

This may not be the last stop on the long fight over the individual mandate. No matter what the appellate court decides, the losing side in this case will almost certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. But that could take a while. It will likely be a few months before the appeals court makes a ruling.

One last thing…
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