Trump administration says it will not defend the constitutionality of the ACA

Jeff Sessions
The Trump administration said it will not defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Trump Administration said it will not "defend the constitutionality" of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in a filing submitted Thursday night in support of a lawsuit filed by Republican-led states filed a lawsuit earlier this year.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday evening informing him of the decision.

"The Department in the past has declined to defend a statute in cases in which the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional and made manifest that it should not be defended, as is the case here."

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RELATED: Blue states fight back against efforts to dismantle the ACA

In February, 20 states leaders filed a lawsuit in the in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

The suit filed by the states challenges the ACA's individual mandate, which was laid out in statute as Section 5000A(a), and claims when Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate starting in 2019 as part of a sweeping tax bill, that it rendered the mandate itself unconstitutional. In response, 17 Democratic attorneys general intervened in the lawsuit to defend the 2010 law, but now their legal battle may have gotten a bit harder. 

In its brief, the Justice Department also said provisions such as banning insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions are also invalid as of Jan. 1 with penalty repeal.