Sep 5, 2018

The ACA is back in court

Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Today is all about the courts, the threats they might pose to the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats’ goal of using those threats to drive turnout in the midterm elections.

Driving the news: A federal district judge in Texas will hear oral arguments this morning on red states’ latest legal challenge to the ACA. At the same time, Brett Kavanaugh will be answering senators’ questions about his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Democrats’ strategy is to tie the two together — to frame the Texas lawsuit as an existential threat to the ACA’s most significant provisions and raise the prospect that a Justice Kavanaugh would cast the decisive vote to strike down the heart of President Obama’s signature achievement.

Reality check: The Texas lawsuit would indeed be devastating to the ACA if it succeeds — Texas wants the courts to invalidate the entire law, while the Justice Department is hoping to ax its protections for pre-existing conditions. But a lot of pieces would have to fall into place to get there.

  • Most of the legal experts I’ve talked to see this case as a long shot on the merits.
  • Even if Kavanaugh were to vote to strike down the ACA — which we can’t know for sure, based on his track recordwith the law — Chief Justice John Roberts would also have to do an about-face and vote to kill the ACA, after upholding it twice before, in order for this suit to ultimately succeed.

The big picture: If there are any tea leaves to read today about the ACA’s future, they’ll come from Judge Reed O’Connor in El Paso, not Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington.

  • Don’t expect Kavanaugh to say anything revealing about health care, much less to comment on this specific case.

Situational awareness: The Kavanaugh questioning starts at 9:30 a.m. ET. The district court arguments start an hour later.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.