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Contact: Paul J. Beard II
Principal Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation
(916) 419-7111

Timothy Sandefur
Principal Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation
(916) 419-7111

PLF’s fight against Obamacare moves to the court of appeal

SACRAMENTO, CA;  July 9, 2013: Pacific Legal Foundation has appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in PLF’s lawsuit targeting Obamacare’s individual mandate as an unconstitutionally enacted tax.

PLF’s notice of appeal was filed late last week, after U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell sided with the government’s motion to dismiss.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court characterized the individual mandate — the 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 Obamacare 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.

“The district court wrongly held that the individual mandate is not a ‘bill for raising revenue,’ and therefore doesn’t come under the Origination Clause,” said PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur. “This misses the point of what the individual mandate is and what it does. While some kinds of taxes have been held not to be ‘bills for raising revenue’ and not subject to the Origination Clause, this is only where the tax is really just a penalty or a fine used to enforce compliance with some other constitutionally valid law. Such logic doesn’t apply to the individual mandate, because the Supreme Court itself, in its Obamacare ruling last year, explicitly denied that the individual mandate is a ‘penalty.’ Therefore it must be a ‘bill for raising revenue’ subject to the Origination Clause.”

Paul J. Beard II
Principal Attorney

Timothy Sandefur
Principal Attorney

The district court went on to say that Obamacare complied with the Origination Clause because it was introduced in the Senate as a constitutionally legitimate amendment to a revenue-raising measure that began in the House. “The problem with that analysis is that the House bill had no connection to health care,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II. “It was about helping veterans buy homes. Moreover, it didn’t raise revenue. Its tax credits for veterans and corresponding tax increases on corporations were designed to be revenue neutral. Finally, Obamacare wasn’t added as a true amendment. Rather, Obamacare was substituted for the provisions of the House bill, which were totally stripped out.

“Obamacare saddles the American people with massive new taxation, and it does so in defiance of constitutional procedures designed to protect taxpayers,” Beard continued. “PLF will fight this crushing, unconstitutional mandate all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.”

Plaintiff Matt Sissel: “I’m in this to defend freedom and the Constitution”

PLF attorneys represent Matt Sissel, an Iowa 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 financial penalty.

“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, Matt was a soldier with the Iowa Army National Guard from 2000 to 2008. 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.

“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.

“I am grateful that PLF is representing me without charge and allowing me to take a stand for principles, for my rights, and for the integrity of our Constitution.”

The case is Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. PLF’s pleadings, a detailed litigation backgrounder, video, and a podcast may be found at PLF’s website:

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.

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