Democratic states appeal ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled last month that the sweeping health care law is unconstitutional in its entirety.

Obamacare sign in east Austin on Dec. 1, 2015.

The Democratic coalition of states battling Texas over the fate of the Affordable Care Act has formally begun the process of challenging a Dec. 14 decision ruling the law unconstitutional in its entirety.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who’s leading the charge, filed a notice of appeal Thursday morning before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The blue states will ask the federal appeals court to overturn last month’s ruling from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who declared that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is unconstitutional after Congress in December 2017 gutted one of its major provisions, the individual mandate.

The notice of appeal marks the next stage of what is expected to be a long-running litigation process that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. A Texas-led coalition of 20 states kicked the process off nearly a year ago by suing the federal government to kill the law; after the Justice Department sided partially with Texas, the California-led coalition of states stepped in to defend Obamacare in court.

“The wheels start turning as of now,” Becerra said on a press call Thursday morning.

As the appeals process proceeds, the law remains in effect. O’Connor, who has emerged as something of a favorite for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, issued a stay last week keeping the law in place “because many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty during the pendency of appeal.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment.

The California coalition also announced that it has gained an ally state as a result of the November elections. Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, a Democrat who ran on a campaign to challenge the policies of President Donald Trump, said Thursday he’s proud to sign on to the lawsuit.

“My first official act is to become part of this case,” Weiser said Thursday.