President Joe Biden is pursuing his latest effort to reverse the accomplishments of his predecessor.
According to recent reports, Biden has ordered the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop former President Donald Trump’s challenge before the Supreme Court related to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“A new burden”
Of course, the decision is hardly a surprise given Biden’s stint as vice president under the Obama administration, which was responsible for passing the massive and controversial health care act.
Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler noted in a letter to the Supreme Court that the Justice Department had “reconsidered” the facts of the case and found that it believed there are no grounds to challenge Obamacare’s constitutionality.
“Rather than imposing a new burden on covered individuals, the 2017 amendment preserved the choice between lawful options and simply eliminated any financial or negative legal consequence from choosing not to enroll in health coverage,” he wrote.
This about-face marked the third major case in which the Biden administration has changed a previously held position. The president has also effectively reversed the Trump administration’s position on both border-wall funding and the practice of holding asylum seekers in Mexico as their case progresses.
While each of the shifts might have been expected based on Biden’s campaign promises, such legal changes have attracted Supreme Court criticism in the past.
“A really big deal”
As Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan explained in 2018: “I think changing positions is a really big deal that people should hesitate a long time over.”
Clearly, the Biden administration’s hasty move on these issues will lead critics to assume that officials did not hesitate very long at all before pulling the rug out from under significant legal positions.
There is still a chance that the case continues as it was initially brought forward by 18 state attorneys. Nevertheless, Biden’s win in November seems to indicate that Obamacare will be the law of the land for at least a few more years.
Whereas Trump pursued various policies offering an alternative to the Affordable Care Act and forced through serious reforms in the pharmaceutical industry and beyond, Biden appears intent to do the opposite.
For Republicans hoping to see a swift end to the behemoth health care law, the most direct option available at this point is to wait until next year’s midterm elections. With a landslide GOP victory in the House and Senate, the legislative branch might actually be able to instigate fundamental changes in D.C.