News & Politics

Kavanaugh Refuses to Say Whether He'd Uphold Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

The nominee said he couldn't "give assurances on a hypothetical."

Photo Credit: NBC News (YouTube)

While Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing is continuing, a court in Texas is hearing arguments to a challenge to the Affordable Care Act's basic constitutionality, and specifically its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

And yet when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Kavanaugh directly whether he would uphold the statute preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, Kavanaugh wouldn't give a clear answer. "I can't give assurances on a specific hypothetical," he told Whitehouse. Hypothetical, with this federal court challenge happening even as he spoke.

Kavanaugh has been slippery before on the ACA, avoiding making a decision on the constitutionality of the law in 2011 with a dodge. When the D.C. Circuit heard the challenge that ultimately went to the Supreme Court where it was upheld, the three-judge panel Kavanaugh sat on declared the law constitutional in a 2-1 decision. Kavanaugh kept his Republican bona fides intact by voting in dissent, but based his dissent on a technicality. He wouldn't say one way or the other whether he thought the law should be upheld, but instead said that the lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of standing until after a tax penalty at the heart of the challenge took effect.

Well, now that tax penalty has been repealed, which is the basis of the current challenge to the law. That makes Kavanaugh's dodge in his hearing even more weasely.

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Joan McCarter is the Senior Political Writer for Daily Kos.