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Paxton speaks outside the Supreme Court. Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / Getty Images

If you thought the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate would settle the question of its constitutionality or that Congress repealing the mandate would satisfy its critics, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has some news for you.

The latest: Paxton and 19 other Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit late yesterday claiming — once again — that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of the ACA has to fall along with it.

Here’s how the logic of this argument plays out:

  • When the Supreme Court upheld the mandate in 2012, it said Congress could not force consumers to buy health insurance, but could impose a tax penalty on those who didn’t.
  • When Congress repealed the individual mandate as part of its recent tax bill, it didn’t actually repeal the coverage requirement — it just dropped the tax penalty to $0.
  • Therefore, the mandate itself is still on the books, but without the tax penalty the Supreme Court upheld.
  • The lawsuit further argues that the rest of the ACA cannot be separated from the mandate — essentially a retread of a part of the 2012 case that the high court never needed to settle.

Quick take: With no enforcement mechanism in place for the mandate, it’ll be a lot harder to convince a court that it’s harming anyone — a key component of having the legal standing to sue.

  • Those procedural grounds are probably the arena in which the current Justice Department would prefer to fight this out, rather than trying to decide whether and how to defend the ACA on its merits.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.