For the third time, SCOTUS has saved Obamacare

A demonstrator holds a sign in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2020...

The Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday once again struck down a challenge to the Affordable Care Act which, if successful, would have yanked health insurance away from millions of Americans who rely on the Obama-era legislation for coverage. This is the third time a challenge to what is colloquially known as "Obamacare" has been rejected by the court.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer explained that the case, initially brought by a host of Republican-led states and spearheaded by Texas, was not rejected on the merits of the plaintiff's arguments, but rather because "Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them."

By rejecting the case based on standing, rather than, as Breyer put it, "questions of the Act's validity," the court has essentially quashed the claims of both the plaintiff states and two individual plaintiffs who joined the case later. All argued they were in a position to claim they'd been directly harmed by the Affordable Care Act. "Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have shown that the injury they will suffer or have suffered is 'fairly traceable' to the 'allegedly unlawful conduct' of which they complain," Breyer wrote.

The court's decision comes nearly three years after a Texas judge ruled the insurance mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional — a decision that was later upheld upon appeal.

Thursday's ruling, welcome as it was to the millions who rely upon Obamacare for health insurance, was not without dissent. Writing for the minority, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, said that "today's decision is the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as installments one and two."

"In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the court has pulled off an improbable rescue," Alito continued, stressing that he believed the plaintiff states did in fact have standing. "I begin with the question whether the individual mandate falls within a power granted to Congress under Article I of the Constitution. The Constitution's text and our precedent compel the conclusion that it does not."

In other words, had the case been allowed to be argued in front of the court, Alito would have voted to eradicate Obamacare by declaring it unconstitutional.

Ultimately, Thursday's decision marks just the latest in a more-than-decade-long effort on the part of Republicans to deny health care coverage for millions of Americans. The only question now is whether conservatives will take this third loss at the hands of the highest court in the land as a sign that Obamacare is here to stay, or whether they'll keep trying to yank the promise of health insurance away from the people who rely on it every single day.