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Contact: Timothy Sandefur
Principal Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation
(916) 419-7111
(530) 651-4897
James S. Burling
Director of Litigation
Pacific Legal Foundation
(916) 419-7111

Statement on Supreme Court declining PLF’s Obamacare challenge

Washington, D.C.;  January 19, 2016: The Supreme Court announced today that it will not hear Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Pacific Legal Foundation’s constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  PLF’s case targeted the individual mandate tax specifically, but called for Obamacare to be struck down in its entirety, because it is a massive tax-raising bill that began in the Senate instead of the House, as the Constitution requires.

Timothy Sandefur
Principal Attorney

James S. Burling
Dir. of Litigation

“It is very disappointing that the Court has chosen not to hear this important case, because the justices were being asked to uphold and enforce an important constitutional protection for all taxpayers,” said PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur.  “At issue was the Constitution’s Origination Clause, which requires all new taxes to start in the House, the chamber closest to the people.  Obamacare is a massive tax bill, but it was launched in the Senate through a procedural ploy.  The Senate’s subversion of the constitutionally mandated rules for tax bills is a danger not just in this case but in future cases as well. By allowing Congress to use procedural tricks to evade the constitutional rules, the Court has opened the door to Congress further evading democratic accountability for the laws it passes.”

Obamacare raises taxes massively

PLF’s lawsuit focused on Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to buy a federally prescribed insurance plan or pay what the Supreme Court in 2012 called “a tax on going without health insurance.”  But according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), that is just one of more than a dozen revenue-related planks in Obamacare that 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, of the Constitution requires that all bills for raising revenue must start in the House, 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.

Plaintiff Matt Sissel:  a small business owner who loves liberty

Matt Sissel, the plaintiff in this constitutional challenge to Obamacare, 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.

“Important constitutional principles and freedoms were at stake in my challenge to Obamacare, so I am very disappointed that the court declined to hear it,” said Sissel.  “Nevertheless, the battle against Obamacare’s oppressive bureaucratic dictates will go on.  Tens of millions of Americans agree with me that we should have the freedom to make our own health-care choices, and not be forced to purchase a federally dictated healthcare plan.”

Matt is an artist and owner of an art business, based in the state of Washington.  He is also an Iraq War veteran.  As a member of the Iowa Army National Guard, he served two years in Iraq as a combat medic, providing medical care to the sick and wounded.  During his second year, which he volunteered for, his duties also included training and advising the Iraqi military, and he received the Bronze Star.

“I am grateful that PLF represented me without charge and allowed me to take a stand for everyone’s fundamental rights, and for the integrity of our Constitution,” said Sissel.

The case is Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. PLF’s petition for writ of certiorari, along with other briefs, a litigation backgrounder, videos, and podcasts 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.  PLF represents Matt Sissel, as with the clients in all of our cases, without charging attorneys’ fees. 

of PLF donations come from individuals


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