Getting to the HEART of Obamacare

Help us declare Obamacare unconstitutional

After attempts to declare the controversial law illegal, the United States Supreme Court last summer ruled that the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was essentially a tax. Today, Obamacare remains the law of the land. While there are still many lawsuits in play challenging aspects of Obamacare in the nation’s courts, only one — the constitutional challenge by Pacific Legal Foundation, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, goes to the very heart of Obamacare — its taxes were illegally constituted.

A Senate Slight of Hand

Remember the bill that members of Congress “needed to pass so they could read its contents?” It features a tax penalty if Americans forgo purchasing health insurance under the individual mandate. The big problem that most Americans are unaware of? The Obamacare tax was created in the Senate, a violation of the Origination Clause of the United States Constitution, which says that all revenue raising bills must start in the House of Representatives.

What shell game did the architects of Obamacare employ? The Senate took a bill that had passed the House — the Service Members Home Ownership Act of 2009 — and removed every single word. In the empty shell, Obamacare supporters hatched the health care bill, with more than 2,000 pages of provisions, programs, mandates, and what we now know are taxes.

High Court Majority Deems Penalty a “Tax”

PLF’s Sissel lawsuit, filed in July of 2010, was on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considered the challenge to Obamacare from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and 26 states, in NFIB v. Sebelius. As initially filed, PLF’s Sissel lawsuit targeted Obamacare’s individual mandate to buy health insurance as a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8).

The Supreme Court agreed with this position, in the NFIB ruling last June. However, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by four justices, characterized the Affordable Care Act’s charge as a federal “tax,” because it requires a payment to the federal government from people who decide not to buy health insurance.

Last year after the Supreme Court’s ruling, PLF attorneys amended our original lawsuit to focus on this critical constitutional issue.

A Veteran’s Battle for Liberty

PLF client Matt Sissel
Matt Sissel, PLF client

In our Obamacare challenge, we represent Iowa small business owner and former Iraq combat medic, Matt Sissel.

“I’m in this case to defend freedom and the Constitution,” said Sissel. “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 about Congress ignoring the constitutional roadmap for enacting taxes, because those procedures are there for a purpose — to protect our freedom.”

An artist and owner of an art business in Cedar Rapids, Matt was a soldier with the Iowa Army National Guard from 2000 to 2008. He spent two years in Iraq as a combat medic, providing medical care to the sick and wounded. During his second tour, he received the Bronze Star for his service.

“I proudly wore the American uniform, to defend liberty and the Constitution,” said Sissel. “It’s dispiriting to see our lawmakers treat the rules set out in the Constitution with disrespect, as if they’re just suggestions, or as if members of Congress are too important to follow them.”

A Test of the Constitution, and PLF’s Resolve

While the debate still rages about Obamacare and the best way to cover uninsured Americans, clearly the wrong way is imposing an unconstitutional tax on citizens like Matt Sissel. Our lawsuit is pending at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and awaits the court’s decision of the government’s specious motion to dismiss.

Like many other PLF cases that go to the very core of constitutional limits on government power, Sissel will be an uphill battle.

Government attorneys, funded by our tax dollars, are determined to stop any attempts to challenge the Affordable Care Act. We are just as determined to defend our principles of limited government and individual rights. We’re not alone.

Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett has stated: “If any act violates the Origination Clause, it would seem to be the Affordable Care Act.”

David Catron of the American Spectator describes PLF’s lawsuit as “...the only remaining lawsuit that has any chance of bringing down the entire health care law.”

Valerie Richardson, reporting about the Sissel case for The Washington Times, wrote “‘Obamacare’ looks increasingly inevitable, but one lawsuit making its way through the court system could pull the plug on the sweeping federal health care law.”

We have the will, and we will do all we can to successfully challenge Obamacare. The fact is no organization in America has been more deeply involved in the legal efforts against Obamacare than Pacific Legal Foundation. In addition to our Origination Clause case, we participated in all levels of the litigation that culminated in the NFIB decision last year, and we continue to be involved in several others, including a lawsuit (Coons), challenging the constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Help Pull the Plug on Obamacare

Pacific Legal Foundation is America’s first freedom-based public interest legal charity. We litigate cases like Sissel at no charge to our clients. The power of our legal program, and why we’ve won six consecutive victories at the U.S. States Supreme Court, comes from charitable donations of individuals, businesses, organizations, and family-based foundations.

Citizens, who are not content to sit in the waiting room while important battles for freedom are waged in the courts, have joined with PLF. I invite you to stand with us, and to stand up for the Constitution.

Your donation to PLF will advance cases like Sissel through the courts, and keep government within the clearly enumerated limits in the Constitution.




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