O’Connor’s decision came in the case Texas v. Azar, in which the constitutionality of the individual mandate was challenged. O’Connor stated that because Congress terminated the fines placed upon people if they did not obey the individual mandate, the reasoning that Justice John Roberts used in supporting Obamacare by calling it a tax was no longer applicable. Thus the invalidity of the individual mandate, which was an essential part of Obamacare, invalidated the entire package.
O’Connor wrote in his decision, “Here, the Plaintiffs allege that, following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), the Individual Mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. They say it is no longer fairly readable as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power and continues to be unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause. They further urge that, if they are correct, the balance of the ACA is untenable as inseverable from the Invalid Mandate.”
Resolution of these claims rests at the intersection of the ACA, the Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius), and the TCJA (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017). In NFIB, the Supreme Court held the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power because it triggered a tax. The TCJA eliminated that tax. The Supreme Court’s reasoning in NFIB—buttressed by other binding precedent and plain text—thus compels the conclusion that the Individual Mandate may no longer be upheld under the Tax Power. nd because the Individual Mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court already held.