California v. Texas, brought by 18 Republican attorneys general and backed by the Trump administration, questioned the validity of the act’s individual mandate, which required most citizens and legal residents to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The mandate was intended to get young, healthy people to sign up and offset the cost of sicker people.
Critics contend that requiring coverage is unfair, and that a tax penalty is a burden to families. The mandate was the most unpopular part of the law, according to polls.
In its 2017 tax bill, Congress eliminated the tax penalty associated with not having insurance (California later implemented its own penalty.) The Republican attorneys general argue that with no fine, the federal mandate is invalid— and therefore, so is the entire law.
Today’s ruling came seven months after the Senate confirmed a new U.S. Supreme Court justice. Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully pushed back on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with now Justice Amy Coney Barrett, arguing that a more conservative court would likely lean against the law. Coney Barrett, however, joined the majority in voting to uphold the health law. In their opinion, the majority wrote that the plaintiff’s argument did not have legal standing.