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Judge dismisses Maryland suit seeking to protect health law

February 1, 2019

BALTIMORE (AP) — A federal judge on Friday dismissed a Maryland lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration for what it portrayed as recurring efforts to dismantle the national health care law and chase people away from coverage.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander wrote in her decision that there’s no question about Trump’s “profound disdain” for the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010 by his predecessor. But she found the state’s allegations speculative, ruling that neither Trump’s “zealous attempts to repeal the statute, nor his derisive comments about it, support an inference that he will fail to enforce the law.”

“In effect, the state proclaims the sky is falling. But, falling acorns, even several of them, do not amount to a falling sky,” Hollander wrote in her 48-page opinion that entitles Maryland to revive the litigation at some later date.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, had sought a declaratory judgment that ACA was constitutional and the Trump administration must stop trying to “sabotage” the Obama-era law twice sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The opinion in federal court in Maryland comes weeks after a Texas federal judge’s December ruling that the Obama health care law is unconstitutional. Although the decision by the Republican-appointed judge in Texas was certainly sweeping, it has had little immediate practical impact because the health care law remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the nation’s highest court.

In the wake of the ruling in Texas, which is under appeal, the federal Health and Human Services Department put out a statement making clear that it “will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA as it had before the court issued its decision.”

On Friday, Frosh said the effect of the federal court ruling in Maryland was simply that they must wait to pursue their case.

“We will resume this litigation immediately if the president breaks his promise of continued enforcement or when the stay of the Texas court’s decision is lifted,” Frosh said in a statement.

In its lawsuit from last year, Maryland also sought to challenge Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as the country’s acting attorney general. William Barr has since been chosen as Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

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