House members file brief for PLF’s “Origination Clause” challenge to Obamacare
Washington, D.C.; November 11, 2013: Pacific Legal Foundation's legal challenge to Obamacare received important backing in the form of an amicus brief filed by Congressman Trent Franks, R-Arizona, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, joined by several dozen other members of the House.
The amicus brief was filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in PLF's case, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
“We are grateful for this powerful support from Congressman Franks, a leading authority on the Constitution, and from many other key lawmakers,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II. “This support from members of the House is especially significant because PLF's lawsuit defends the constitutional authority of the lower chamber, the legislative body that is closest to the people. We argue that Obamacare was enacted in a way that deprived the House of its authority to ‘originate' new taxation. By extension, taxpayers were deprived of a core constitutional protection against reckless and oppressive use of the federal taxing power.”
In addition to Representative Franks, House members who have joined the brief as amici in support of PLF’s Obamacare challenge include: Michele Bachmann (MN); Joe Barton (TX); Kerry L. Bentivolio (MI); Marsha Blackburn (TN); Jim Bridenstine (OK); Mo Brooks (AL); K. Michael Conaway (TX); Steve Chabot (OH); Jeff Duncan (SC); John J. Duncan, Jr. (TN); John Fleming (LA); Bob Gibbs (OH); Louie Gohmert (TX); Andy Harris (MD); Tim Huelskamp (KS); Walter B. Jones, Jr. (NC); Steve King (IA); Doug Lamborn (CO); Doug LaMalfa (CA); Bob Latta (OH); Thomas Massie (KY); Mark Meadows (NC); Randy Neugebauer (TX); Steve Pearce (NM); Robert Pittenger (NC); Trey Radel (FL); David P. Roe (TN); Todd Rokita (IN); Matt Salmon (AZ); Mark Sanford (SC); David Schweikert (AZ); Marlin A. Stutzman (IN); Lee Terry (NE); Tim Walberg (MI); Randy K. Weber, Sr. (TX), Brad R. Wenstrup (OH); Lynn A. Westmoreland (GA); Rob Wittman (VA); and Ted S. Yoho (FL).
Obamacare: A massive tax bill that started on the wrong side of the Capitol Building
PLF's challenge focuses on the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to buy a federally prescribed health insurance plan or pay a penalty to the federal government — a charge that the U.S. Supreme Court identified as a “tax” in its 2012 ruling on Obamacare.
Because Obamacare's individual mandate is a tax — and, indeed, Obamacare includes more than $500 billion in new taxation, in all — the law should have been initiated in the House, where Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution says new taxes must “originate,” in order to keep the taxing power close to the people. However, in defiance of this constitutional requirement, Majority Leader Harry Reid launched the law in the Senate, by taking an entirely unrelated House bill on housing for veterans, stripping it, and inserting the language that became Obamacare.
Obamacare's fiascos aren't new: They started with the violation of the Origination Clause
“The current attempts to roll out Obamacare are frankly a fiasco,” said Beard. “These chaotic problems are symbolic of how, from the first, this law was foisted on the American people in a rushed and arbitrary way that ignored the careful and considered process laid down in the Constitution. The Constitution's requirement that new taxes must start in the House is not a dusty formality. It's an important safeguard for taxpayers, and for care and deliberation in the enactment of new taxes. Because this mandate was violated so flagrantly with Obamacare, and because the individual mandate is so central to Obamacare's structure, our suit argues that the entire law must be struck down.”
Plaintiff Matt Sissel: “I am grateful for this support from members of the House”
PLF attorneys represent Matt Sissel, a small business owner who chooses to pay for medical expenses on his own, rather than buy health insurance. He objects on financial, philosophical, and constitutional grounds to being ordered by the federal government to purchase a health care plan he does not need or want, on pain of a penalty tax.
“I'm in this case to defend freedom and the Constitution,” said Sissel. “I am grateful for support from members of the House in this important litigation. I strongly believe that I should be free — and all Americans should be free — to decide how to provide for our medical needs, and not be forced to purchase a federally dictated health care plan. I'm very concerned that Obamacare was enacted in violation of the constitutional roadmap for enacting taxes, because those procedures are there for a purpose — to protect our freedom.”
An artist and self-employed business owner, Matt is also a soldier in the Army National Guard, and has more than eight years of service. He spent two years in Iraq as a combat medic, the second of which he volunteered for, providing medical care to the sick and wounded. On top of those duties, his second year was spent training and advising the Iraqi military. During his second tour, he received the Bronze Star for his service.
The case is Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. PLF’s opening appellate brief, a detailed litigation backgrounder, video, and a podcast may be found at PLF’s website: www.pacificlegal.org.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is a watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and free enterprise, in courts nationwide.