White House: Confident in ACA subsidies’ legality

White House press secretary Josh Earnest addressed the Obama administration’s legal defeat Tuesday morning, dismissing the decision as “interesting to legal theorists,” but having “no practical impact.”

Earnest said that the ruling would not immediately affect Americans currently receiving tax credits through the federal exchange, adding that he expects the Department of Justice to fight the decision. Acting for the Obama administration, the DoJ will likely ask for the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to weigh in on a ruling made by a three-judge panel, Earnest said.

When asked if a DoJ defeat would spell doom for the Affordable Care Act, Earnest side-stepped the question, repeating that the administration is “confident in the legal basis that supports our case.”

Read More Appeals court: Most Obamacare subsidies illegal

A federal appeals court panel declared Tuesday that government subsidies worth billions of dollars that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Affordable Care Act exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia—not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

Read More Health, insurance stocks move on Obamacare ruling

—By CNBC.com staff