Judge David Dowd, Jr. (United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio) issued an opinion today denying in part and granting in part the United States's motion to dismiss the constitutional challenge to the ACA brought by the U.S. Citizens Association. You can find the opinion here.
The complaint made four claims: (1) that the minimum coverage provision exceeds Congress's enumerated powers; (2) that the ACA violates the individual rights to expressive and intimate association; (3) that the ACA deprives them of liberty without due process of law; and (4) that the ACA violates their constitutional right to privacy. There are four essential elements to today's decision from Judge Dowd:
* The plaintiffs' have standing to claim that the minimum coverage provision is unconstitutional, and their claim is ripe. (In other words, their alleged injury is sufficiently imminent to constitute an injury in fact for purposes of Article III.)
* The Anti-Injunction Act does not deprive the court of jurisdiction (essentially because ACA 1501(b) is not a genuine tax).
* The plaintiffs' claim that the minimum coverage provision exceeds Congress's enumerated powers is sufficient "at this point to pass the 'plausibility' teachings of Twombly and Iqbal." (Op. at 10)
* The plaintiffs' claims concerning the right of association, the deprivation of due process, and the right to privacy are not plausible as a matter of law, and thus are dismissed pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6).
This is now the fifth federal district court to rule in some way in the various ACA lawsuits. Three courts (this one, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Northern District of Florida) have held that the claim that the minimum coverage provision exceeds Congress's enumerated powers is sufficiently plausible to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. One court (the Eastern District of Michigan) has held that it is not. And one court (the Southern District of California) did not reach the issue but instead dismissed the claim on standing grounds.
This case now proceeds to motions for summary judgment, limited to the question of whether the minimum coverage provision exceeds Congress's enumerated powers.