California v. Texas 2021 - Case Summary

University / Undergraduate
Modified: 6th Mar 2024
Wordcount: 611 words


Law Expert

Disclaimer: This US Supreme Court case summary was produced by one of our law experts as an informational resource for law students and professionals researching case law. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Cite This

Legal Case Summary

Summary: US Supreme Court case centred on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate after tax penalties were zeroed.


In California et al. v. Texas et al., the US Supreme Court was tasked with deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This case arose after Congress zeroed out the tax penalty associated with the ACA's individual mandate in 2017. The mandate effectively required most Americans to have health insurance.

In 2018, Texas and several other states filed a lawsuit claiming that the mandate was unconstitutional because it could no longer be interpreted as a tax since it generated no revenue. Therefore, they argued, the entire ACA was unconstitutional because the individual mandate was 'inseverable' from the rest of the law.


The main issues in the case were twofold. First, whether Texas and the other plaintiff states had standing to sue – that is, whether they could demonstrate that they suffered an injury connected to the conduct of the federal government. Second, whether the individual mandate was constitutional, and if found unconstitutional, whether the rest of the ACA could stand.


The case has important implications for future legal and policy debates. It highlights the significant role of standing doctrine in limiting the scope of judicial review. The decision ensures the continued provision of healthcare under the ACA, impacting millions of Americans.

Furthermore, the ruling implies a reluctance of the court to entertain large-scale challenges to federal statutes. In this regard, it confirms the court's respect for the principle of constitutional avoidance and judicial restraint in matters of significant national policy.


By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas and the other states did not have standing to challenge the ACA's individual mandate because they did not suffer any injury that the courts could redress. The court found that without the tax penalty, there is no harmful conduct traceable to the alleged unlawful mandate of the ACA, hence the lack of standing. The majority opinion was written by Justice Stephen Breyer.


Journalist Brief

California v. Texas centred on whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s compulsory healthcare coverage mandate, which initially involved a tax penalty for non-compliance, was constitutionally valid. Once the penalty was nullified, several states questioned if the mandate remained constitutional and if invalid, whether the entire ACA would collapse. The US Supreme Court determined that the challenging states lacked legal standing since they could not prove they were harmed by the now penalty-less mandate. The decision, therefore, upheld the ACA, preserving healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.


What did the Supreme Court decide in California v. Texas?

Answer: The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff states lacked standing to challenge the ACA's individual mandate and thus, the ACA remains in place.

Why didn't the states have standing?

Answer: The court found that the states couldn't show they'd suffered harm from the mandate, which after 2017 carried no penalty.

What does this mean for the Affordable Care Act?

Answer: The ruling ensures the continued implementation of the ACA, preserving healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Get Academic Help Today!

Encrypted with a 256-bit secure payment provider