The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals added a new question on Wednesday to the high-stakes lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act's survival: Whether Democratic attorneys general or the House of Representatives have the legal standing to defend the ACA in court.

What it means: The court is asking whether it ought to kick out the entire pro-ACA side of the case. Technically Texas (with a group of other red states) is suing the Trump administration, but the Trump administration says it agrees with Texas' position. Blue states and House Democrats stepped in so that somebody would be arguing the pro-ACA position.

The intrigue: If the 5th Circuit does boot Democrats off of this lawsuit, that would likely mean no one can appeal a lower court’s ruling striking down the entire law.

  • As University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley explained on Twitter, it's not necessarily clear how all that would play out.
  • Presumably, the Supreme Court would be disinclined to let a single district court judge have the final say on whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies. So there would probably be fresh procedural wrangling to revive some kind of appeal.

The bottom line: This could be a bad development for the ACA — or it could end up not mattering much at all, if the court decides Democrats do have standing. But it's definitely not a positive development for the health care law.

What’s next: The 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments July 9.

Go deeper: Suddenly everyone is defending the Affordable Care Act

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."