National Politics

This is not the first time Fort Worth judge has ruled against key Obamacare provisions

Ted Cruz’s next steps on eliminating Obamacare

Speaking to supporters in Waco on July 2, 2018, Sen. Ted Cruz laid out a plan to lobby colleagues to make changes to Obamacare that Democrats can’t stop.
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Speaking to supporters in Waco on July 2, 2018, Sen. Ted Cruz laid out a plan to lobby colleagues to make changes to Obamacare that Democrats can’t stop.

A Fort Worth judge who ruled that core provisions of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional Friday has a history of controversial rulings, several of which blocked other parts of Obamacare.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, according to his court biography. He is a former state and federal prosecutor who attended the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law.

In August 2016, O’Connor faced a backlash over his judgment that blocked the Obama administration’s order to allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice in public schools.

In that case, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office asked for the nationwide injunction against the Obama administration’s order to accommodate transgender students. Paxton also filed the most recent lawsuit against Obamacare that prompted Saturday’s ruling.

Justice Department officials appealed the decision on the bathroom order to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2017, the Trump administration dropped the appeal.

In January 2017, O’Connor blocked another Obamacare provision that prohibited insurers, doctors, or hospitals from discriminating against transgender patients or women with an abortion in their medical history.

The rule was adopted in 2016 and also prohibited discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance.

“Congress did not understand ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity,’” O’Connor said in the ruling. In the Affordable Care Act, he said, Congress “adopted the binary definition of sex.”

In April, the Trump administration pointed to the decision to justify rolling back protections for trans patients, The New York Times reported.

In 2015, O’Connor ruled that Arlington’s current regulations on distributing material at busy street intersections are constitutional. Open Carry Tarrant County had sued in May 2014 after members handing out pamphlets at busy intersections were confronted by Arlington police officers.

While O’Connor said the city’s regulations prohibiting the distributions were legal, he ordered Arlington to reimburse Open Carry Tarrant County for its lawsuit costs because the suit was filed under the city’s original ordinance.

In 2014, O’Connor sentenced Brice Johnson to more than 15 years in federal prison for kidnapping and severely beating a gay man he lured to his house after meeting him through an online service. In the ruling, O’Connor concluded that Johnson kidnapped the man because of his sexual orientation.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.