D.C. Circuit sets May 8 to hear PLF’s challenge to the ACA
WASHINGTON, DC; April 8, 2014: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has set Thursday, May 8, 2014, for oral argument in Pacific Legal Foundation’s (PLF’s) challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — i.e., Obamacare — for imposing new taxes unconstitutionally.
PLF’s lawsuit is the first litigation to reach an appellate court that is based primarily on Obamacare’s violation of the Constitution’s “Origination Clause” (Article I, Section 7), which requires that revenue-raising legislation “originate” in the House, not the Senate.
PLF’s case, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is set for the 9:30 a.m. docket on May 8. PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur will argue on behalf of small business owner Matt Sissel. Donor-supported PLF is a nonprofit, public interest watchdog organization that litigates nationwide for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and free enterprise. PLF attorneys represent Matt Sissel free of charge, as with all PLF clients.
Obamacare raises taxes massively — and unconstitutionally
PLF’s lawsuit focuses on Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to buy a federally prescribed insurance plan or pay a fee. In its 2012 ruling that upheld Obamacare against a Commerce Clause challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court labeled the individual mandate as a “tax.” Indeed, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), more than a dozen revenue-related planks in Obamacare — including the individual mandate — collectively will impose more than $800 billion in new levies. The individual mandate alone amounts to a $54 billion tax on individuals over ten years, and $113 billion on businesses, according to the JCT.
Yet Obamacare was not enacted in compliance with constitutional procedures for raising taxes. Article I, Section 7, requires that legislation to raise revenue must start in the House, in order to keep the taxing power close to the people. But Obamacare began in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid took an unrelated House bill (a measure to help veterans buy homes, which raised no revenue), gutted it, and inserted the language of Obamacare. “This lawsuit is not just about protecting Americans from Obamacare’s heavy burden of regulations and their threat to the economy and our health care system,” said PLF’s Sandefur. “Fundamentally, we’re defending the rights of taxpayers — and holding Congress and the president accountable to the Constitution and the rules it sets for enacting new taxes.”
The trial court’s ruling would create a gaping loophole in Article I Section 7
The D.C. Circuit is hearing PLF’s appeal from a June 28, 2013, District Court ruling, which exempted the individual mandate from the Origination Clause on the grounds that the mandate is intended to prod people to buy health plans.
“There is no precedent for setting aside the Constitution’s procedural requirements for new taxes merely because a tax influences conduct,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II. “As the Supreme Court noted in its 2012 Obamacare ruling, every tax has a regulatory purpose. The District Court’s doctrine would carve a gaping loophole in the Origination Clause — essentially repealing it through judicial exceptions.”
PLF’s lawsuit aims to take down all of Obamacare
PLF’s lawsuit takes on the ACA in its entirety. “Because the individual mandate is central to the design of Obamacare, we’re asking that the entire law be struck down,” said Sandefur.
Plaintiff Matt Sissel: “I’m in this to defend freedom and the Constitution”
Matt Sissel is a small business owner who chooses to pay medical expenses on his own. He objects on financial, philosophical, and constitutional grounds to being ordered to purchase a health plan he does not need or want.
“I’m glad that this important lawsuit is moving forward and oral argument has been set,” said Sissel. “The outcome of this case could have momentous consequences for freedom in America.”
“I’m in this case to defend freedom and the Constitution,” Sissel continued. “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 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.”
A self-employed artist, Matt spent two years in Iraq as a combat medic with the Iowa Army National Guard. During his second year he also helped train and advise the Iraqi military. He received the Bronze Star for his service.
The case is Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. PLF’s briefs, a 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.