Conservative Judge Overturns Obamacare

Sigh. Another conservative judge with a vendetta has declared Obamacare unconstitutional. Here’s the reasoning:

  • The individual mandate is an exercise of Congress’s taxing power (you have to pay a tax unless you have insurance).
  • Last year’s tax bill reduced the tax penalty to zero.
  • Therefore the mandate is no longer an exercise of the taxing power.
  • But the Supreme Court has already ruled that the mandate is not justified by the Interstate Commerce clause.
  • So the mandate has no constitutional backing at all.
  • Therefore the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
  • The mandate is not severable from the rest of Obamacare. If it’s unconstitutional, then all of Obamacare is unconstitutional.

According to this logic, Congress can never enact a tax of zero, even temporarily. It can enact a positive tax. It can enact a negative tax. But not a zero tax. This is going to come as quite a shock to the millions of people who pay a rate of zero on capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes.

Anyway, the judge hasn’t issued an injunction, so Obamacare is still the law of the land. If he does, it will get overturned and eventually sent to the Supreme Court. Again. This is not something to panic about yet.

POSTSCRIPT: In the meantime, Saturday is the last day to enroll in Obamacare in most states. If you or anyone you know is insured under Obamacare, make sure to enroll now.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.