Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday responded to a stay of a federal district court ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional, saying that the Office of Attorney General had “no quarrel” with the judge’s decision to stay his own ruling pending appeal.

“We are eager to defend the district court’s ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional, Paxton said. “We have no quarrel with the district court’s stay, which provides the states with an opportunity to develop plans to address the health care needs of their residents for the day this ruling is ultimately upheld.”

Earlier in December, US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor issued an opinion in a case brought by Texas and 19 other conservative states finding that Obamacare was unconstitutional. That opinion, which is expected to have far-reaching effects on healthcare markets, will be appealed by a coalition of liberal states to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday, O’Connor finalized his judgment but stayed the decision pending that appeal.

O’Connor’s stay of his own opinion will prevent disruption of healthcare markets while the decision is contested in the appellate courts. It will also avoid the delay of litigation seeking a stay from the higher courts.

Obamacare was upheld as constitutional in 2012 after the Supreme Court found the law’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was justified under Congress’s taxing authority. When Congress rescinded the Obamacare tax penalties as part of the 2017 tax cuts, many conservative lawyers theorized that Congress had removed the “constitutional leg” that Obamacare was standing on.

O’Connor agreed with that assessment and struck down the entire law. O’Connor’s opinion on the subject will be tested in the courts of appeals in the coming months. Paxton will lead the defense of the court’s opinion on appeal.


Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.