A federal court has approved Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s request to withdraw Wisconsin from two lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act, handing a victory to Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers.
It’s the first time Kaul has removed the state from litigation after Republican lawmakers tried to limit his and Gov. Tony Evers’ power to do so during a lame-duck session in December. Both Kaul and Evers had campaigned on removing the state from litigation challenging the signature health care law.
Kaul submitted requests earlier this month to remove the state from the ACA lawsuits after a state judge’s order briefly gave him that authority. The order blocked laws enacted by Republicans in the December session that included limits on Kaul’s power to end — with the governor’s approval — the state’s role in litigation. A state appeals court later suspended the ruling.
The U.S. District Court in Northern Texas granted Kaul’s request to remove Wisconsin from two lawsuits challenging the ACA. The first is a more high-profile multi-state suit that prompted a federal judge to strike down the law based on the grounds its mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.
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The judge’s decision was stayed, and the suit is currently being heard in a U.S. Appeals Court. Wisconsin is still party to the case at the appellate level.
The U.S. District Court also dismissed Wisconsin from a separate multi-state challenge, Kaul’s office announced Tuesday.
Plaintiffs in the case from which Wisconsin has withdrawn are challenging a federal rule that interpreted the Obamacare ban on sex discrimination as including “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.”
Those plaintiffs, which also include a religious hospital network, Franciscan Alliance, and other Christian health care professionals, say the rule would require they “perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions contrary to their religious beliefs and medical judgment.”
Kaul said in a statement that “the state of Wisconsin should not have been involved in this lawsuit, and I am glad to be able to announce that we no longer are.”
Federal courts have not yet responded to Kaul’s request to withdraw Wisconsin from a more high-profile lawsuit against Obamacare: Texas v. United States, in which a group of states have asked a federal judge to overturn Obamacare in its entirety.