SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has joined a 20-state coalition lawsuit claiming the Affordable Care Act has been rendered unlawful since tax reform passed by Congress eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA’s individual mandate.
“Utah has always believed that the ACA was an impermissible overreach of federal authority,” state Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement. “The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce but not to compel it.”
The Supreme Court construed the individual mandate penalty as a tax – even though Congress had repeatedly denied that it was – and upheld the mandate as a permissible exercise of taxing power, the statement said. The court and the Justice Department under the Obama administration repeatedly emphasized that the mandate was not severable from the rest of the ACA – that is, if the mandate was unconstitutional then the entire law must go.
“Because the recent tax reform legislation eliminated that penalty, Obamacare is no longer legally viable,” Reyes said. “This lawsuit will clear the path for the states and Congress to move forward with solutions that work better for Americans and are in line with constitutional limits on government power.”
In addition to Utah, the coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The complaint names the United States of America, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and its secretary, the IRS and the IRS commissioner as defendants. It was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, on Feb. 26, with summons to all defendants issued Feb. 27. Service of the summons and complaint to defendants is pending and as yet no responsive pleadings are due or filed. Read the full complaint here.