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

Court is asked to reject Administration’s attempt to scuttle PLF Obamacare suit

Washington, D.C.; December 7, 2012: Pacific Legal Foundation asked a federal district judge this week to reject the Obama Administration’s attempt to throw out PLF’s lawsuit against Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On behalf of Iowa small business owner Matt Sissel, PLF’s lawsuit challenges Obamacare’s individual mandate — the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a charge to the federal government — as enacted unconstitutionally, in violation of the requirement that tax measures originate in the House, not the Senate.

The government had asked U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, of the D.C. District, to dismiss PLF’s lawsuit on the grounds that the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year, in NFIB v. Sebelius, upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate in its entirety.

The government’s motion to dismiss also argued that the “tax” is constitutional because the Senate enacted Obamacare by “amending” a House bill. Finally, the government argued that the “tax” may be a tax — but it’s not a “bill for raising revenue.”

In PLF’s brief opposing the motion to dismiss, PLF attorneys counter the government’s arguments. “While courts have found that some taxes are not ‘bills for raising revenue’ and not subject to the Origination Clause, our brief points out that this is only where the tax is really just a penalty or a fine used to enforce compliance with some other constitutionally valid law,” said PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur, who authored PLF’s brief. “This logic doesn’t apply to the individual mandate, because the Supreme Court itself, in the NFIB case, explicitly denied that it’s a ‘penalty.’ Therefore it must be a ‘bill for raising revenue’ subject to the Origination Clause.

Timothy Sandefur, PLF Principal Attorney
Timothy Sandefur
Principal Attorney

“Our brief also notes that Senator Harry Reid took a totally unrelated House bill on veterans’ housing issues, removed all the language, and inserted the provisions of Obamacare,” Sandefur continued. “This ‘gut and amend’ procedure has never before been allowed to overcome the constitutional requirement that tax bills originate in the House. On the contrary, courts have always held that while the Senate can amend bills to add taxes, it can do so only when the original House bill was itself a ‘bill for raising revenue’ — and where the Senate amendment is ‘germane’ to the original bill. Neither of those criteria was present here.”

Read the complaint, PLF’s opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss, a detailed litigation backgrounder, and a video and podcasts.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation ( is a nonprofit legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and free enterprise, in courts across the country.

PLF’s recent victory in Sackett v. EPA was its sixth precedent-setting victory for liberty and limited government at the U.S. Supreme Court. Less than seven months after the unanimous ruling in Sackett, the Supreme Court recently accepted another PLF challenge to overreaching regulations — Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. Oral argument in Koontz is scheduled for January 15, 2013.