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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Now that President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, there are two specific health care cases you'll probably be hearing more about — from both Democrats warning that he'll overturn the Affordable Care Act and conservative hardliners who are afraid he won't.

Kavanaugh's most significant ACA-related decision was in a case about the individual mandate. He did not, contrary to what some of his critics have implied, vote to uphold the mandate.

The details:

  • Kavanaugh, citing the federal Anti-Injunction Act, said the courts should not entertain taxpayers' lawsuits over a tax until they've had to pay it. The basic idea is that you haven't suffered a real harm until the IRS has sent you a bill.
  • He did not take a position on the merits of the mandate.
  • Yes, this posture assumes that the mandate is a tax, as Chief Justice John Roberts ultimately held in 2012. That's because it's part of the tax code and was enforced by the IRS. Like a tax.

The second case dealt with a more far-fetched challenge: It sought to have the ACA invalidated because the Senate wrote most of it.

  • The Constitution's Origination Clause says bills that raise revenues have to originate in the House, not the Senate.
  • So when the Senate wants to pass a revenue-raising bill, it often takes a random House-passed bill, strips everything out, and adds an amendment with whatever it wants to pass. That's what it did with the ACA.
  • "Such Senate amendments are permissible under the Clause’s text and precedent," Kavanaugh wrote. But he said an earlier ruling had upheld the law for the wrong reasons, and that his court should take another look at that decision. He lost.

Small world: Kavanaugh and HHS Secretary Alex Azar worked together on independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation of the Clintons in the '90s. Azar praised the pick last night.

  • Expect Kavanaugh to face some questions about his experience with Starr — and how it shaped his views on whether and how presidents can be prosecuted — during his confirmation hearings.

Go deeper

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

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