O'Connor's laughable reasoningIOW, if this observer's read of this case is correct, this opinion will effectively be overturned on appeal in the near future if the appellate courts or SCOTUS follows its own decree:
The premise of O'Connor's opinion in Texas v. United States is that Congress' decision to repeal a single provision of the Affordable Care Act necessarily requires the courts to repeal the entire law. O'Connor justified this result through a two-step argument -- the first part of which is plausible but largely academic, and the second part of which is laughable.
... In NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court held that this individual mandate is a valid exercise of Congress' power to tax. Seven years later, the Trump tax law effectively repealed this individual mandate. Though the 2017 legislation leaves in place most of the Affordable Care Act's language establishing an individual mandate, it reduces the amount of the tax to zero -- rendering the mandate a nullity.
The first step of O'Connor's argument claims that this lifeless husk of a mandate is unconstitutional. This is the least ridiculous part of O'Connor's opinion, but the consequences of this part of his decision should be nonexistent. Congress already stripped the mandate of any real effect, and the practical impact of a court decision striking down a law that does nothing should be nothing.
But O'Connor's opinion then takes a turn away from legal reasoning and into partisan cosplay. When a court strikes down part of a statute, it often must ask whether other, constitutional provisions of the law must fall along with the unconstitutional provision. But such speculation is unnecessary in a case such as Texas, because Congress already answered this question. The Republican Congress spent much of 2017 debating how much of the Affordable Care Act to repeal. In the end, they only had the votes to repeal one provision, the individual mandate, and so that's what they did.
Even if you assume that O'Connor is correct that the inert mandate is unconstitutional, he does not need to speculate which other provisions Congress would have wanted to strip away because Congress already answered this question. In the Trump tax law, Congress effectively repealed the individual mandate while leaving the rest of Obamacare intact. That's conclusive evidence that Congress preferred to leave the rest of Obamacare intact.