President Trump explicitly said he would nominate judges who will erode access to quality health care for millions, tweeting “my judicial appointments will do the right think unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.” Since taking office, he has done just that. The Senate has confirmed scores of judges who were previously on the front lines trying to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Trump’s Justice Department is now asking those judges to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Below are 15 Trump judges who, at the time of their confirmation, were on the record as wanting to use the courts to erode access to quality health care.
Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his decision to uphold the ACA.
John Bush (Sixth Circuit) strongly opposed the ACA and said it needs to be “repealed.” Under the pseudonym G. Morris, Bush wrote multiple blog posts denouncing the act. In one, he wrote, “I already have health insurance and pay for it handsomely, thank you. I don’t need to tack onto my bill the tab for someone else.”
James Ho (Fifth Circuit) wrote, in support of Senator Cornyn’s reelection bid, that “Cornyn was one of the earliest officials to predict that Obamacare would be not just bad policy, but a threat to the Constitution.”
Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) challenged the legality of the ACA, filing an amicus brief that, had she been successful, would have eliminated critical tax subsidies for millions of Americans in 34 states.
Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) said the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ACA “placed the legitimacy of the court, as well as our freedom as Americans, in great jeopardy.”
Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its challenge to the ACA. He claimed that Americans’ liberty was “profoundly threatened” by the ACA.
Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, dissented from two rulings upholding the ACA. His former clerk wrote that one of Kavanaugh’s dissents served as a “roadmap” for invalidating the ACA, and that “[n]o other contender on President Trump’s list is on record so vigorously criticizing the law.”
Howard Nielson (District of Utah) co-authored amicus briefs challenging the ACA.
Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) was lead counsel in an effort by 20 states to strike down the ACA.
Michael Park (Second Circuit) filed an amicus brief arguing the ACA was unconstitutional.
David Porter (Third Circuit) vocally opposed the legality of the ACA.
Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his opinion upholding the ACA. Rao also bemoaned that the conservative justices on the Supreme Court had not created a “revolution” that would overturn “important” acts such as the ACA.
Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit), while at the Justice Department, filed a brief arguing the ACA was unconstitutional. Lamar Alexander, Republican Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, called Readler’s argument “as far-fetched as any I’ve ever heard.” Three career Justice Department lawyers refused to sign Readler’s brief, and a veteran Justice Department lawyer resigned in protest.
Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas) argued, “If Obamacare is allowed to stand, there is no limit to what the federal government can do to you. It’s going to create 111 agencies that get between you and your doctor, it’s going to lead to government rationing of healthcare.”
Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky; Nominated to DC Circuit) called the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA “indefensible.” He praised then-Judge Kavanaugh for his “thorough and principled takedown” of the ACA.