A panel of federal judges in New Orleans sharply questioned attorneys defending the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, increasing the chances that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may throw out at least part of the 2010 law, often called Obamacare.
Two of the three judges on the appeals court panel _ both appointed by Republican presidents _ repeatedly pressed California’s deputy solicitor general, who is defending the law, to explain why it should remain on the books after Congress in 2017 scrapped a penalty against people who didn’t have health insurance. That provision was once deemed essential to the program.
The judges seemed disinclined to decide what parts should be saved or struck down, as California and other defenders of the law have urged.
“Congress can fix this,” said Judge Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of President Donald Trump. Engelhardt suggested that if the health care law needs to be revised, lawmakers on Capitol Hill should do it, not the courts.