Why Trump’s New Push to Kill Obamacare Is So Alarming

by Nicholas Bagley — Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2019

That’s the headline of my op-ed at the New York Times from this morning. Here’s an excerpt:

[T]he Trump administration has signaled loud and clear that its campaign against Obamacare is not over; that it will stop at nothing to achieve in court what it could not achieve in Congress; and that it doesn’t care how many people are hurt if the Affordable Care Act is undone.

It has also put health care back at the center of the political conversation. Republicans already took a beating on the issue in the fall midterm elections, and Democrats, who released a bill in the House to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, want to keep running on it. They’ll be sure to remind voters of the Trump administration’s zealous commitment to taking away their health care.

Along the way, the Justice Department has trashed the duty to defend. That’s not to be taken lightly. The duty is a close cousin to the president’s constitutional duty to enforce the law. If the Justice Department really thinks that Obamacare is so blatantly unconstitutional that it can’t be defended, that implies that the president is violating the Constitution whenever he applies it.

It’s not hard to see that as an incipient justification for refusing to enforce any law that the president believes to be unconstitutional, however ridiculous or partisan that belief might be. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. But the failure to defend the Affordable Care Act is an ominous sign to anyone who cares about the rule of law.

Cite As: Author Name, Title, 36 Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (date), URL.

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About Nicholas Bagley

Nicholas Bagley is a Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.

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