As the Senate Judiciary Committee conducts confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, right-wing media are trying to ease Judge Amy Coney Barrett through by ignoring the Trump administration’s stance that the Affordable Care Act should be completely dismantled.
Much of Barrett’s confirmation hearings so far have centered on the idea of “severability” for parts of the ACA that Republicans don’t like, such as the individual insurance mandate, in order to maintain the provisions of the law that enjoy bipartisan popularity, such as protections for people with preexisting conditions.
However, right-wing media have blatantly ignored or downplayed the Trump administration’s own words in a brief in the upcoming ACA case of California v. Texas. In that brief, the Department of Justice argued explicitly that “the individual mandate cannot be severed from the remainder of the ACA,” meaning “the entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.” And despite her testimony during the hearings, Barrett herself seems willing to eliminate the ACA in its entirety, as Trump has also repeatedly promised to do in the past.
- Law professor Jonathan Turley said during Fox News’ coverage of the hearings, “The ACA, in most likelihood, will not be struck down. John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh are expected by most people to support severability.”
- On Fox & Friends, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier stated, “Every legal expert that I have spoken to says that’s actually not what's on the chopping block right now -- the concept is severability, and it would not appear that the Supreme Court is really going to be cutting down all of the Affordable Care Act. … As you remember, President Trump himself has put forth an executive order saying that the federal nation’s message now is to cover those with preexisting conditions.”
- Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy claimed on Bill Hemmer Reports that Barrett believes California v. Texas “is not an Affordable Care Act case in the sense of ‘I, Amy Barrett, am making a decision about the policy of Obamacare.’ She is looking at this as a severability case.” During another segment, on Outnumbered, McCarthy alleged, “I don't think there is any chance that the Supreme Court is going to throw out the Affordable Care Act in toto, and the reason you can say that with confidence is because of the severability doctrine.”
- On Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News contributor Bill Bennett said, “It's also pretty much, Bret, a foregone conclusion that the Affordable Care Act will not be taken down as unconstitutional. Severability, which means you can take the piece out that is objectionable, means -- and two conservative justices have come out in favor of that, Alito and Kavanaugh. Once you do that, the rest of the act can stand. … So this notion that if she’s confirmed, she’ll vote with the bad guys, the bad conservatives -- it’s going to be 6-3 to preserve the Affordable Care Act anyway -- kind of missing the point.”