Trump joins anti-vaxxers to attack Obamacare

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

Last week, the Trump administration asked a federal appeals court to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. Their argument is fundamentally flawed in numerous ways, not the least of which is the fact that it relies on a dissenting opinion that is explicitly at odds with a binding decision by the Supreme Court’s majority.

On Wednesday, a handful of conservative groups weighed in with amicus briefs supporting this attack on Obamacare. They include an organization founded by failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore (R)Citizens United (yes, that Citizens United), a very short brief authored by one of Trump’s personal lawyers, and two anti-vaxxer groups.

The case is Texas v. United States.

Last month, a very different mix of groups filed briefs urging the court not to repeal Obamacare. That, much longer list of organizations, includes many of the major players in health care — such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, AARP, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and a number of economists and legal scholars.

Meanwhile, the only health care focused groups siding with Trump are the two anti-vaxxer organizations. The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons is a conservative group closely associated with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that, according to the New York Times, “publicized discredited medical theories, including possible links between vaccines and autism and between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.”

Meanwhile, the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom distributed a document urging people to “think twice before getting the flu vaccine.” Though that document offered no medical reason why flu vaccines are harmful, the organization was concerned that “many hospitals force doctors, nurses and other workers to wear masks or lose their jobs if they choose not to be vaccinated.”

In case there’s any doubt, none of these briefs make sound legal arguments. The anti-vaxxers rely on the same dissenting opinion that forms the backbone of the Trump administration’s brief, and they also make the unique argument that not repealing Obamacare in its entirety would be an “improper judicial line item veto” — though the Supreme Court struck down a law permitting the president to make line item vetoes, courts invalidate only some parts of a broader law all the time.

Similarly, the Roy Moore organization makes an argument that was rejected by Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2015, and that would also require courts to strike down President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reforms. The brief from Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, doesn’t even engage with the two most important issues in the case — whether any court has jurisdiction to hear this case, and whether the bulk of the law can be saved if courts strike down a single provision that literally does nothing at all.

Yet, despite the weakness of the arguments against Obamacare, and despite the fact that the only groups willing to defend the Trump administration’s effort to repeal the law is a ragtag band of cranks and science-deniers, there is a very real chance that the appeals court hearing this case will back Trump’s play.

Eleven of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s 16 active judges are Republicans. Nine of them are hardline conservatives who are likely to back nearly any argument that would undercut Obamacare. Five of the Fifth Circuit’s members are Trump judges.

The Trump administration, in other words, is betting that they’ve stacked the courts with enough political hacks that they can convince the judiciary to do what Congress quite explicitly refused to do during Trump’s time in office — repeal the entire Affordable Care Act.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Ian Millhiser is a Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Kenyon College and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University. Ian clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has worked as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Federal Rights Project, as Assistant Director for Communications with the American Constitution Society, and as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta. His writings have appeared in a diversity of legal and mainstream publications, including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Slate, the Guardian, the American Prospect, the Yale Law and Policy Review and the Duke Law Journal; and he has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Fox News and many radio shows.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work