On Thursday, Axios reported that behind the scenes, Republican operatives are secretly glad the Supreme Court turned away their lawsuit seeking to completely invalidate the Affordable Care Act, known popularly as Obamacare.
The court ruled 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer writing for the majority, that the Republican states lacked standing to advance their legal theory that the zeroed-out individual mandate was unconstitutional and "inseverable" from the rest of the law — the third time in a decade that a legal challenge has been turned away by the justices. Even far-right Justice Clarence Thomas reluctantly concurred with the majority on the matter.
"Most GOP lawmakers privately admit (and some will even say publicly) they don't want to deal with health care again. The issue generally isn't a good one for them with voters — as they learned the hard way after they failed to repeal the ACA in 2017," reported Alayna Treene, Caitlin Owens, and Sarah Mucha. "Now they're happy instead to make Democrats own problems with the health care system and brand their ideas to improve it as 'radical.'"
"If the Supreme Court had made the opposite ruling, and the ACA had been killed or mortally wounded in court, it would've created chaos not only for the public but within the party," said the report. "Heading toward the 2022 midterms, Republicans would be on the hook for any fallout, while having little sway over what Congress did to fix it." One GOP Senate aide told Axios it would have "shred[ded] any chance of taking back the majority in either chamber."
The reported noted that many Senate Republicans are publicly saying they're ready to move on. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) said, "Forget about repealing it. That water's under the bridge anyway," and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who co-authored a major proposal to dismantle the ACA in 2017, "The reality is no, we don't have the power to repeal Obamacare in this current construct."