A federal judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act on Friday night, ruling that former President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislation has fallen down like a losing game of "Jenga."
U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth sided with the argument put forward by a coalition of Republican-leaning states, led by Texas, that Obamacare could no longer stand now that there's no penalty for Americans who don't buy insurance.
The U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the law in 2012, by classifying the legislation as a tax. But since Congress removed the individual mandate n 2017, O'Connor ruled, there's no way the ACA can be allowed to stand.
"The Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause — meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional," O'Connor wrote. "The Individual Mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA."
Without the system being upheld by a wide pool of mandated participants, the ACA cannot stand, O'Connor ruled.
"Without it, Congress and the Supreme Court have stated, the architectural design fails," according to O'Connor. "It is like watching a slow game of Jenga, each party poking at a different provision to see if the ACA falls."
States who fought the Republican effort to undercut the ACA vowed to keep fighting.
"Today's ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America's faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans," California Attorney General Becerra said in a statement Friday night.
"The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today's misguided ruling will not deter us: Our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and well-being of all Americans."