ICYMI: Three Justice Department Lawyers Refused to Do What 6th Circuit Nominee Chad Readler Did

Three Justice Department Lawyers Withdrew from Legal Brief Challenging Pre-existing Condition Protections, Readler Signed on & Next Day was Appointed for Federal Judgeship; Law Professor: ‘It is hard to explain how big of a deal this is’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In case you missed it, three career attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew from a federal case in reaction to the DOJ’s extraordinary move to file a brief that challenges current law and healthcare protections included in the Affordable Care Act. After the three attorneys withdrew, the brief was filed by DOJ political appointee Chad Readler, who was then nominated by President Trump to serve as a Judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals the very next day.

DOJ, as an arm of the Executive Branch, is charged with defending and enforcing laws that Congress has enacted. Instead, Readler chose to file a brief on behalf of DOJ, declining to defend the Affordable Care Act, and instead challenging current provisions in the law, including protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Readler filed the brief despite the fact that the three career attorneys withdrew from the case, seemingly in objection to DOJ’s action. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has announced he will not support Readler’s nomination to serve on the court.   

Read what others are saying about Readler’s filing: 

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR (VOX): TRUMP’S LEGAL ATTACK ON THE ACA ISN’T ABOUT HEALTH CARE. IT’S A WAR ON THE RULE OF LAW

“So this should’ve been an easy layup for the Justice Department. In clean, crisp terms, it could simply have explained that when Congress repealed the mandate penalty, it didn’t mean to unravel the entire ACA.

What’s more, the Justice Department had a duty to make that argument. There’s a longstanding, bipartisan commitment to defending acts of Congress whenever a non-frivolous argument can be made in their defense.

“This brief, however, torches that commitment. It is hard to explain how big of a deal this is.”

“But don’t take my word for it. For Justice Department lawyers — and I was one myself (from 2007 to 2010) — the duty to defend congressional statutes is at the core of what it means to be a government attorney. Yet hours before the federal government filed its brief, three line attorneys from the Justice Department withdrew from the case. That’s almost unheard of. These are lawyers who have made arguments they personally disagreed with countless times. They’re civil servants; they’re good soldiers. Yet they could not sign on to the administration’s argument. That’s how outlandish it is.” 

Read more HERE. 

CRISTIAN FARIAS (NEW YORK MAGAZINE): ON OBAMACARE, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE IS STANDING AGAINST THE RULE OF LAW

“One way to know that this unusual, indefensible nondefense runs counter to how the government is supposed to work is something Bagley flagged that happened moments before the Justice Department filed its brief in the Texas case. A group of career lawyers working on the case for months notified the judge handling it that they’d be jumping ship — they filed a notice with the court formally withdrawing their representation of the federal government. Georgetown Law’s Marty Lederman, who closely observes these things, called the 11th-hour withdrawal “flabbergasting.” In their stead, a new legal team led by Chad Readler, a political appointee leading the Justice Department’s Civil Division, would be taking over. Because life is one big coincidence, on the same day that Readler filed the DOJ brief in the Texas case, he received a nod from Trump to become a federal appeals judge. I kid you not. Republicans may just reward him for his fealty to the cause.”

Read more HERE.

JULIE ROVNER AND JULIE APPLEBY, KAISER HEALTH NEWS (WASHINGTON POST): ADMINISTRATION CHALLENGES ACA’S PREEXISTING CONDITIONS PROTECTION IN COURT

“Legal experts also point out that the Trump administration’s failure to defend the law could have long-lasting implications for the rule of law in the nation.

“?If the Justice Department can just throw in the towel whenever a law is challenged in court, it can effectively pick and choose which laws should remain on the books,” wrote Bagley. “That’s as flagrant a violation of the President’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed as you can imagine.”’

Read more HERE.