Jun 17, 2021 — JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court. As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and. Affordable Care Act required
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1 (Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2020 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus CALIFORNIA ET AL . v. TEXAS ET AL . CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT No. 19Œ840. Argued November 10, 2020ŠDecided June 17, 2021* The Patient Protection and Affordabl e Care Act as enacted in 2010 re -quired most Americans to obtain minimum esse ntial health insurance coverage and imposed a monetary penalty upon most individuals who failed to do so. Amendments to th e Act in 2017 effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount to $0. Subsequently, Texas (along with over a dozen States and two individuals) brought suit against federal officials, claiming that without the penalty the Act™s minimum essen -tial coverage provision, codified at 26 U. S. C. §5000A(a), is unconsti -tutional. They sought a declaration that the provision is unconstitu – tional, a finding that the rest of the Act is not severable from §5000A(a), and an injunction against enforcement of the rest of the Act. The District Court determined that the individual plaintiffs had standing. It also found §5000A(a) both unconstitutional and not sev -erable from the rest of the Act. Th e Fifth Circuit agreed as to the ex – istence of standing and the unconstitutionality of §5000A(a), but con -cluded that the District Court™s severability analysis provided insufficient justification to strike do wn the entire Act. Petitioner Cal -ifornia and other States intervened to defend the Act™s constitutional -ity and to seek further review. Held: Plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge §5000A(a)™s minimum essential coverage provision because they have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to defendants™ conduct enforcing the spe -cific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional. Pp. 4Œ16. (a) The Constitution gives federal courts the power to adjudicate ŠŠŠŠŠŠ *Together with No. 19Œ1019, Texas et al. v. California et al ., also on certiorari to the same court.
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2 CALIFORNIA v. TEXAS Syllabus only genuine ﬁCasesﬂ and ﬁControversies .ﬂ Art. III, §2. To have stand -ing, a plaintiff must ﬁallege personal injury fairly traceable to the de-fendant™s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief.ﬂ DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U. S. 332, 342. No plaintiff has shown such an injury ﬁfairly traceableﬂ to the ﬁalleg -edly unlawful conductﬂ challenged here. Pp. 4Œ5. (b) The two individual plaintiffs claim a particularized individual harm in the form of past and future payments necessary to carry the minimum essential coverage that §5000A(a) requires. Assuming this pocketbook injury satisfies the inju ry element of Article III standing, it is not ﬁfairly traceableﬂ to an y ﬁallegedly unlawful conductﬂ of which the plaintiffs complain, Allen v. Wright , 468 U. S. 737, 751. Without a penalty for noncompliance, §5000A(a) is unenforceable. The individu – als have not shown that any kind of Government action or conduct has caused or will cause the injury th ey attribute to §5000A(a). The Court™s cases have consistently spoken of the need to assert an injury that is the result of a statute™s actual or threatened enforcement, whether today or in the future. See, e.g., Babbitt v. Farm Workers , 442 U. S. 289, 298. Here, there is only the statute™s textually unenforcea -ble language. Unenforceable statutory language alone is not sufficient to establish standing, as the redressability requ irement makes clear. Whether an injury is redressable depends on th e relationship between ﬁthe judicial relief requestedﬂ and the ﬁinjuryﬂ suffered. Allen, 468 U. S. at 753, n. 19. The only relief sought regarding the minimum essential coverage provision is declaratory relief, namely, a judicial statement that the provision challenged is unconstitutiona l. But just like suits for every other type of remedy, declaratory-judgment actions must satisfy Arti -cle III™s case-or-controversy requirement. See MedImmune, Inc . v. Genentech, Inc. , 549 U. S. 118, 126Œ127. Ar ticle III standing requires identification of a remedy that will redress the individual plaintiffs™ injuries. Id., at 127. No such remedy exists here. To find standing to attack an unenforceable statutory provision would allow a federal court to issue what would amount to an advisory opinion without the possibility of an Article III remedy. Article III guards against federal courts assuming this kind of jurisdiction. See Carney v. Adams , 592 U. S. ___, ___ . The Court also dec lines to consider Federal respond -ents™ novel alternative theory of standing first raised in its merits brief on behalf the individuals, as well as the dissent™s novel theory on be -half of the states, neither of which was directly argued by plaintiffs below nor presented at the certiorari stage. Pp. 5Œ10. (c) Texas and the other state plaintiffs have similarly failed to show that the pocketbook injuries they allege are traceable to the Govern -ment™s allegedly unlawful conduct. DaimlerChrysler Corp . v. Cuno,
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3 Cite as: 593 U. S. ____ (2021) Syllabus 547 U. S. 332, 342. They allege two forms of injury: one indirect, one direct. (1) The state plaintiffs allege indirect injury in the form of in -creased costs to run state-operated medical insurance programs. Theysay the minimum essential coverage provision has caused more state residents to enroll in the programs . The States, like the individual plaintiffs, have failed to show how that alleged harm is traceable to the Government™s actual or possible action in enforcing §5000A(a), so they lack Article III standing as a matter of law. But the States have also not shown that the challenged minimum essential coverage provi – sion, without any prospect of penalty, will injure them by leading more individuals to enroll in these progra ms. Where a standing theory restson speculation about the decision of an independent third party (here an individual™s decision to enro ll in a program like Medicaid), the plaintiff must show at the least ﬁth at third parties will likely react in predictable ways.ﬂ Department of Commerce v. New York, 588 U. S. ___, ___. Neither logic nor evidence suggests that an unenforceablemandate will cause state residents to enroll in valuable benefits pro -grams that they would otherwise forg o. It would require far stronger evidence than the States have offered here to support their counterin -tuitive theory of standing, which rests on a ﬁhighly attenuated chain of possibilities.ﬂ Clapper v. Amnesty Int™l USA , 568 U. S. 398, 410Œ411. Pp. 11Œ14. (2) The state plaintiffs also claim a direct injury resulting from a variety of increased administrative and related expenses allegedly re -quired by §5000A(a)™s minimum esse ntial coverage provision. But other provisions of the Act, not the minimum essential coverage provi – sion, impose these requirements. These provisions are enforced with – out reference to §5000A(a). See 26 U. S. C. §§6055, 6056. A conclusion that the minimum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional would not show that enforcement of these other provisions violates the Constitution. The other asserted pock etbook injuries related to the Act are similarly the result of enforceme nt of provisions of the Act that operate independently of §5000A(a). No one claims these other provi -sions violate the Constitution. The Government™s conduct in question is therefore not ﬁfairly traceableﬂ to enforcement of the ﬁallegedly un -lawfulﬂ provision of which the plaintiffs complainŠ§5000A(a). Allen , 468 U. S., at 751. Pp. 14Œ16. 945 F. 3d. 355, reversed and remanded. BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which R OBERTS, C. J., and T HOMAS, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. A LITO , J., filed a dissenting opin -ion, in which G ORSUCH, J., joined.
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_________________ _________________ 1 Cite as: 593 U. S. ____ (2021) Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash -ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other form al errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Nos. 19Œ840 and 19Œ1019 CALIFORNIA, ET AL ., PETITIONERS 19Œ840 v. TEXAS, ET AL . TEXAS, ET AL ., PETITIONERS 19Œ1019 v. CALIFORNIA, ET AL . ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT [June 17, 2021] JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court. As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage. The Act also imposed a monetary penalty, scaled according to in -come, upon individuals who failed to do so. In 2017, Con -gress effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount at $0. See Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Pub. L. 115Œ97, §11081, 131 Stat. 2092 (codified in 26 U. S. C. §5000A(c)). Texas and 17 other States brought this lawsuit againstthe United States and federal officials. They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz).The plaintiffs claim that without the penalty the Act™s min- imum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional. Specifically, they say neither the Commerce Clause nor the
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2 CALIFORNIA v. TEXAS Opinion of the Court Tax Clause (nor any other enumerated power) grants Con-gress the power to enact it. See U. S. Const., Art. I, §8. They also argue that the minimum essential coverage re – quirement is not severable from the rest of the Act. Hence, they believe the Act as a whole is invalid. We do not reach these questions of the Act™s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them. I A We begin by describing the provision of the Act that the plaintiffs attack as unconstitutional. The Act says in rele -vant part: ﬁ(a) Requirement to maintain minimum essen -tial coverageﬁAn applicable individual shall . . . ensure that the individual, and any dependent . . . who is an applicable individual, is covered unde r minimum essential cover -age . . . . ﬁ(b) Shared resp onsibility payment ﬁ(1) In generalﬁIf a taxpayer who is an applicable individual . . . fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) . . . there is hereby imposed on the taxpayer a penalty . . . in the amount determined under subsection (c). ﬁ(2) Inclusion with return ﬁAny penalty imposed by this section . . . shall be in -cluded with a taxpayer™s return . . . for the taxable year . . . .ﬂ 26 U. S. C. §5000A. The Act defines ﬁapplicable individualﬂ to include all tax -payers who do not fall within a set of exemptions. See §5000A(d). As first enacted, the Act set forth a schedule of penalties applicable to those who failed to meet its mini -mum essential coverage requirement. See §5000A(c)
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3 Cite as: 593 U. S. ____ (2021) Opinion of the Court (2012). The penalties varied with a taxpayer™s income and exempted, among others, persons whose annual incomesfell below the federal income tax filing threshold. See §5000A(e) (2012). And the Act required that those subject to a penalty include it with their annual tax return. See §5000A(b)(2) (2012). In 2017, Congress amended the Act by setting the amount of the penalty in each category in§5000A(c) to ﬁ$0,ﬂ effective beginning tax year 2019. See §11081, 131 Stat. 2092. Before Congress amended the Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had implemented §5000A(b) by requiring in – dividual taxpayers to report with their federal income tax return whether they carried minimum essential coverage (or could claim an exemption). After Congress amended the Act, the IRS made clear that the statute no longer requires taxpayers to report whether they do, or do not, maintain that coverage. See IRS, Publication 5187, Tax Year 2019, p. 5 (ﬁForm 1040 . . . will not have the ‚full-year health care coverage or exempt™ box and Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, will no longer be used as the shared responsi – bility payment is reduced to zeroﬂ). B In 2018, Texas and more than a dozen other States (state plaintiffs) brought this lawsuit against the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Commissioner of In -ternal Revenue, among others. App. 12, 34. They sought a declaration that §5000A(a)™s minimum essential coverage provision is unconstitutional, a finding that the rest of the Act is not severable from §5000A(a), and an injunction against the rest of the Act™s enforcement. Id., at 61Œ63. Hurley and Nantz (individual plaintiffs) soon joined them. Although nominally defendants to the suit, the United States took the side of the plaintiffs. See Brief for Federal Respondents 12Œ13 (arguing that the Act is unconstitu -tional). Therefore California, along with 15 other States
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5 Cite as: 593 U. S. ____ (2021) Opinion of the Court (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Lujan v. De-fenders of Wildlife , 504 U. S. 555, 560Œ561 (1992). Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have shown that the injury they will suffer or have suffered is ﬁfairly traceableﬂ to the ﬁallegedly unlawful conductﬂ of which they complain. A We begin with the two individual plaintiffs. They claim a particularized individual harm in the form of payments they have made and will make each month to carry the min-imum essential coverage that §5000A(a) requires. The in -dividual plaintiffs point to the statutory language, which, they say, commands them to buy health insurance. Brief for Respondent-Cross Petitioner Hurley et al. 19Œ20. But even if we assume that this pocketbook injury satisfies the injury element of Article III standing, see Whitmore v. Ar-kansas, 495 U. S. 149, 155 (1990), the plaintiffs neverthe -less fail to satisfy the traceability requirement. Their problem lies in the fact that the statutory provision, while it tells them to obtain that coverage, has no means of enforcement. With the penalty zeroed out, the IRS can no longer seek a penalty from those who fail to comply. See 26 U. S. C. §5000A(g) (setting out IRS enforcement only of the taxpayer™s failure to pay the penalty, not of the taxpayer™s failure to maintain minimum essential coverage). Because of this, there is no possible Government action that is caus- ally connected to the plaintiffs™ injuryŠthe costs of purchas -ing health insurance. Or to put the matter conversely, that injury is not ﬁfairly traceabl eﬂ to any ﬁallegedly unlawful conductﬂ of which the plaintiffs complain. Allen v. Wright, 468 U. S. 737, 751 (1984). They have not pointed to any way in which the defendants, the Commissioner of InternalRevenue and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will act to enforce §5000A(a). They have not shown how any other federal employees could do so either. In a word, they
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6 CALIFORNIA v. TEXAS Opinion of the Court have not shown that any kind of Government action or con -duct has caused or will cause the injury they attribute to §5000A(a).The plaintiffs point to cases concerning the Act that they believe support their standing. But all of those cases con – cerned the Act when the provision was indisputably enforce -able, because the penalty provision was still in effect. See Brief for Respondent-Cross Petitioner Hurley et al. 22 (cit -ing Florida ex rel. Atty. Gen. v. United States Dept. of Health and Human Servs., 648 F. 3d 1235, 1243 (CA11 2011); Thomas More Law Center v. Obama , 651 F. 3d 529, 535 (CA6 2011); Virginia ex rel. Cuccinelli v. Sebelius, 656 F. 3d 253, 266Œ268 (CA4 2011)); cf. National Federation of Inde -pendent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. 519 (2012) (as -sessing the constitutionality of the Act with the penalty pro -vision). These cases therefore tell us nothing about how the statute is enforced, or could be enforced, today. It is consequently not surprising that the plaintiffs can -not point to cases that support them. To the contrary, our cases have consistently spoken of the need to assert an in -jury that is the result of a statute™s actual or threatened en-forcement , whether today or in the future . See, e.g., Babbitt v. Farm Workers, 442 U. S. 289, 298 (1979) (ﬁA plaintiff who challenges a statute must demonstrate a realistic danger of sustaining a direct injury as a result of the statute™s opera-tion or enforcement ﬂ (emphasis added)); Virginia v. Ameri-can Booksellers Assn., Inc. , 484 U. S. 383, 392 (1988) (re -quiring ﬁthreatened or actual injury resulting from the putatively illegal actionﬂ (internal quotation marks omit -ted)). In the absence of contemporary enforcement, we have said that a plaintiff claiming standing must show that thelikelihood of future enforcement is ﬁsubstantial.ﬂ Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus , 573 U. S. 149, 164 (2014); see also Massachusetts v. Mellon , 262 U. S. 447, 488 (1923) (ﬁThe party who invokes the power [of Article III courts] must be able to show, not only that the statute is invalid, but that
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7 Cite as: 593 U. S. ____ (2021) Opinion of the Court he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as the result of its enforcementﬂ). The plaintiffs point out that these and other precedents concern injuries anticipated in the future from a statute™s later enforcement. Here, the plaintiffs say, they have al -ready suffered a pocketbook injury, for they have already bought health insurance. They also emphasize the Court™s statement in Lujan that, when a plaintiff is the ﬁ ‚object™ﬂ of a challenged Government action, ﬁ ‚there is ordinarily little question that the action . . . has caused him injury, and that a judgment preventing . . . the action will redress it.™ ﬂ Brief for Respondent-Cross Petitioner Hurley et al. 18 (quoting Lujan, 504 U. S., at 561Œ562). But critically, unlike Lujan,here no unlawful Government action ﬁfairly traceableﬂ to §5000A(a) caused the plaintiffs™ pocketbook harm. Here, there is no actionŠactual or threatenedŠwhatsoever. There is only the statute™ s textually unenforceable lan -guage.To consider the matter from the point of view of another standing requirement, namely, redressability, makes clear that the statutory language alone is not sufficient. To de -termine whether an injury is redressable, a court will con -sider the relationship between ﬁthe judicial relief re -questedﬂ and the ﬁinjuryﬂ suffered. Allen, 468 U. S., at 753, n. 19. The plaintiffs here sought injunctive relief and a de – claratory judgment. The inj unctive relief, however, con-cerned the Act™s other provisio ns that they say are insever -able from the minimum essential coverage requirement. The relief they sought in respect to the only provision they attack as unconstitutionalŠthe minimum essential cover -age provisionŠis declaratory relief, namely, a judicial statement that the provision they attacked is unconstitu -tional. See App. 61Œ63 (ﬁCount One: Declaratory Judgment That the Individual Mandate of the ACA Exceeds Con -gress™s Article I Constitutio nal Enumerated Powersﬂ (bold-face deleted)); 340 F. Supp. 3d, at 619 (granting declaratory
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8 CALIFORNIA v. TEXAS Opinion of the Court judgment on count I as to §5000A(a)); 352 F. Supp. 3d, at 690 (severing and entering partial final judgment on count I). Remedies, however, ordinarily ﬁoperate with respect to specific parties.ﬂ Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn., 584 U. S. ___, ___ (2018) (T HOMAS, J., concurring)(slip op., at 3) (internal quotation marks omitted). In the absence of any specific party, they do not simply operate ﬁon legal rules in the abstract.ﬂ Ibid. (internal quotation marksomitted); see also Mellon, 262 U. S., at 488 (ﬁIf a case for preventive relief be presented, the court enjoins, in effect, not the execution of the statute, but the acts of the official, the statute notwithstandingﬂ). This suit makes clear why that is so. The Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U. S. C. §2201, alone does not provide a court with jurisdiction. See Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petro-leum Co., 339 U. S. 667, 671Œ672 (1950); R. Fallon, J. Man -ning, D. Meltzer, & D. Shapiro, Hart and Wechsler™s TheFederal Courts and the Federal System 841 (7th ed. 2015) (that Act does ﬁnot confe[r ] jurisdiction over declaratory ac-tions when the underlying dispute could not otherwise be heard in federal courtﬂ); see also Poe v. Ullman , 367 U. S. 497, 506 (1961) (ﬁ[T]he declaratory judgment device does not . . . permit litigants to invo ke the power of this Court to obtain constitutional rulings in advance of necessityﬂ). In -stead, just like suits for every other type of remedy, declar -atory-judgment actions must satisfy Article III™s case-or -controversy requirement. See MedImmune, Inc. v. Genen-tech, Inc., 549 U. S. 118, 126Œ127 (2007). At a minimum, this means that the dispute must ﬁbe ‚real and substantial™ and ‚admit of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.™ ﬂ Id. , at 127 (alteration omitted). Thus, to satisfy Article III standing, we must look elsewhere to find a remedy that will redress the individual plaintiffs™ injuries.
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