- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Tuesday refused Republicans' effort to postpone oral argument in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
- The decision comes after the Republican state attorneys general challenging the ACA asked for a 20-day delay to give them more time file briefs on standing and other issues in the case.
- Oral argument in the case is scheduled for July 9 in New Orleans.
On June 26, the appeals court requested supplemental briefing from the parties on questions about whether the Democratic attorneys general and the U.S. House of Representatives, both of which intervened to defend the law, have legal standing to do so, whether there's even a live case or controversy, and the 'appropriate conclusion' to the appeal in the event the court lacks appellate jurisdiction.
Republican states then filed a letter with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting a 20-day delay in the case to afford the parties extra time to brief those issues. But the appeals court denied the request and instead ordered the briefs to be filed by Friday, ahead of the July 9 oral argument.
Texas, which is the named plaintiff challenging the ACA, sued the federal government over the law but the federal government is no longer defending the ACA.
That change occurred when the Trump administration in March said it agrees the law is unconstitutional.
More than 20 Democratic state attorneys, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, subsequently intervened in the case to argue a trial court's decision invalidating the entire ACA is erroneous. Later, the Democratic-led House of Representatives allowed its legal counsel to intervene in the case and join the appellants.
If the ACA is invalidated entirely, health insurers, hospitals and patients will feel the effects as some 20 million people are expected to lose their coverage and certain required coverages will end.
The Fifth Circuit could rule on the appeal this fall, but the case is likely to ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.