Pacific Legal Foundation, located in Sacramento, has filed a new lawsuit on the constitutionality of Obamacare that will be heard by the Supreme Court.
Sacramento, CA; November 7, 2012: After this week’s election results, the costly, burdensome and intrusive Affordable Care Act (ACA) — “Obamacare” — is less likely than ever to be reformed, let alone repealed, by elected officials.
But a promising, powerful legal challenge is still going forward — litigated by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation, a watchdog organization that defends limited government, free enterprise, and individual rights, in courtrooms nationwide.
“Especially after the election of 2012, PLF is now on the front line in defending the rights of Americans against Obamacare’s violations of core constitutional principles,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II. “Our commitment is strengthened, and our fight goes on.”
PLF’s client, Iowa City small business owner Matt Sissel, agreed. “I am in this lawsuit to defend liberty and the Constitution,” he said. “That purpose and that promise continue today. My lawsuit is more important than ever, and we’ll move ahead with it, all the way up the judicial system, if necessary.
“Quitting is never an option,” said Sissel, a member of the Iowa National Guard who was awarded the Bronze Star for service as a combat medic in the Iraq War. “In the military we learned you don’t stop halfway up the hill. The same goes with our courtroom challenge to Obamacare. I’m grateful to PLF for sharing my determination to move forward.”
Obamacare is a tax that started unconstitutionally — in the wrong house of Congress
In its ruling on Obamacare this past June, the U.S. Supreme Court characterized the ACA’s charge for people who don’t buy health insurance as an exercise of the federal taxing authority.
That holding opened the way for PLF’s legal assault: PLF’s lawsuit argues the ACA was introduced in the wrong house of Congress. It started in the Senate even though the Constitution’s “Origination Clause” (Article I, Section 7) requires that taxes start in the House.
PLF’s case is before Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Howell recently ruled that PLF’s Origination Clause argument may go forward.
“With Obamacare, the legislative process was backwards — and that makes it unconstitutional,” said Beard. “If it’s a tax, as the Supreme Court called it, then it started in the wrong house.”
The Origination Clause says that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.”
What became the ACA, however, was unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In a so-called “shelf bill” ploy, Reid took a totally unrelated House measure on veterans’ issues, struck out all its text, and substituted the voluminous language creating the ACA, with its heavy taxes, including the charge for people who don’t buy insurance.
The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether such a gut and switch ploy is constitutional. Georgetown University Law School Professor Randy Barnett, a leading constitutional critic of Obamacare, sees the importance of getting an answer from the Judiciary. “If any act violates the Origination Clause, it would seem to be the Affordable Care Act,” he wrote recently, in an article on PLF’s lawsuit.
“When we focus on the Origination Clause, we’re not talking about dry formalities and this isn’t an academic issue,” said Beard. “The Founders understood that the power to tax, if misused, involves the power to destroy, as Chief Justice John Marshall put it. Therefore, they viewed the Origination Clause as a safeguard for liberty. They insisted that the power to initiate new taxes should be left with the lawmakers who are most directly accountable to voters — members of the House, who are elected every two years by local districts.”
Obamacare’s prescription — taxes, taxes, and more taxes
The ACA represents one of the largest tax increases in American history. According to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), more than a dozen revenue-related planks, including the charge for not buying insurance, will impose hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes over the next 10 years.
Because the charge for those who don’t buy insurance is so central to the structure of the ACA, PLF’s lawsuit asks that the entire law be struck down.
PLF isn’t political — but we are partisan: for freedom and the Constitution
“PLF’s lawsuit would have gone forward in any case, but the need is now clearer than ever,” said PLF President Rob Rivett. “PLF is a pro-freedom legal watchdog — not a political organization. With the support of liberty-loving donors nationwide, PLF defends the Constitution in court, no matter who holds office in Congress, the state houses, or the White House.
“Obamacare, with its massive, illegally enacted tax hikes, violates the Constitution. That’s why PLF is in this fight — and that’s why we’re staying in this fight!”
The case is Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is a watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and free enterprise, in courts nationwide.