The Obama administration may be alarmed over the dismal number of people signing up for Obamacare, the rising health-care costs for Americans, the legal challenges to the religious discrimination embedded in the law and other problems.
But all of that would be of no consequence if a lawsuit in federal court in Washington succeeds. It alleges senators overstepped their authority in creating the Affordable Care Act and the law, therefore Obamacare is null and void.
The case argues that since the U.S. Constitution requires that revenue-raising measures originate in the U.S. House and Obamacare was created in the Senate, the law is unconstitutional. The case is now headed toward the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has been leading the Obamacare charge since its inception, took a House-passed bill, deleted its contents and then substituted the Senate’s 2,000-page bill.
Now dozens of members of the U.S. House of Representatives are signing onto the battle, claiming the Senate didn’t have the authority to pass the bill.
They argue taxes only can originate with the House, the representatives closest to the American people.
That requirement is so important, according to the members of Congress, that the Constitution never would have been adopted without it. The House represents the people, that’s why it so important!
According to a brief dozens of House members have filed in the case, the principle “behind the Origination Clause – sometimes phrased as ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ – was the moral justification for our War of Independence.”
“With this war for freedom and liberty in mind, the Origination Clause of our Constitution was written; and without it at the core of the ‘Great Compromise of 1787,’ the 13 original states would never have agreed to ratify the Constitution,” the brief states.
“The primary dividing issue between the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was the question of how to resolve the method of representation in the upper chamber. The small states preferred to retain the equal representation they had enjoyed under the Articles of Confederation, while the large states wanted to shift the national legislature to a proportional representation of the American population. No disagreement threatened the success of the convention and the new Constitution more than this one. After a month of heated debate and threats of secession, the delegates finally agreed to the Great Compromise of 1787; a bicameral legislature with equal representation of states in the upper branch, and proportional representation of the nation in the lower branch. That Great Compro0mise was only made possible by agreement of both sides to restrict the upper branch from originating money bills.”
It continues: “The power of the purse was unquestionably reposed in the People’s House, and it has remained in that chamber throughout our history. If the Senate can introduce the largest tax increase in American history by simply peeling off the House number from a six-page unrelated bill which does not raise taxes and pasting it on the ‘Senate Health Care Bill’ and then claim with a straight face that the resulting bill originated in the House, in explicit contravention of the supreme law of the land, then the American ‘rule of law’ has become no rule at all.”
The brief was filed by attorneys representing Reps. Trent Franks, Michele Bachmann, Joe Barton, Kerry L. Bentivolio, Marsha Blackburn, Jim Bridenstine, Mo Brooks, K. Michael Conaway, Steve Chabot, Jeff Duncan, John J. Duncan, Jr., John Fleming, Bob Gibbs, Louie Gohmert, Andy Harris, Tim Huelskamp, Walter B. Jones, Jr., Steve King, Doug Lamborn, Doug LaMalfa, Bob Latta, Thomas Massie, Mark Meadows, Randy Neugebauer, Steve Pearce, Robert Pittenger, Trey Radel, David P. Roe, Todd Rokita, Matt Salmon, Mark Sanford, David Schweikert, Marlin A. Stutzman, Lee Terry, Tim Walberg, Randy K. Weber, Sr., Brad R. Wenstrup, Lynn A. Westmoreland, Rob Wittman and Ted S. Yoho.
Their argument notes that at the 1787 convention, George Mason explained why the Senate was not allowed to raise taxes.
“The Senate did not represent the people, but the states in their political character. It was improper therefore that it should tax the people … Again, the Senate is not like the H. of Representatives chosen frequently and obliged to return frequently among the people. They are chosen by the Sts for 6 years, will probably settle themselves at the seat of Govt. will pursue schemes for their aggrandizement – will be able by weary[ing] out the H. of Reps. and taking advantage of their impatience at the close of a long session, to extort measures for that purpose.”
U.S. senators originally were selected by state legislatures, not a direct vote of the people. That was changed by the 17th Amendment in 1913.
The challenge to Obamacare based on the Origination Clause was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation.
“We are grateful for this powerful support from Congressman Franks, a leading authority on the Constitution, and from many other key lawmakers,” said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II.
“This support from members of the House is especially significant because PLF’s lawsuit defends the constitutional authority of the lower chamber, the legislative body that is closest to the people. We argue that Obamacare was enacted in a way that deprived the House of its authority to ‘originate’ new taxation. By extension, taxpayers were deprived of a core constitutional protection against reckless and oppressive use the federal taxing power.”
PLF’s challenge focuses on the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to buy a federally prescribed health insurance plan or pay a penalty to the federal government – a charge that the U.S. Supreme Court identified as a “tax” in its 2012 ruling on Obamacare.
The foundation explained that because Obamacare’s “individual mandate is a tax – and, indeed, Obamacare includes more than $500 billion in new taxation, in all – the law should have been initiated in the House, where Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution says new taxes must “originate,” in order to keep the taxing power close to the people.”
“However, in defiance of this constitutional requirement, Majority Leader Harry Reid launched the law in the Senate, by taking an entirely unrelated House bill on housing for veterans, stripping it, and inserting the language that became Obamacare.”
Beard said the “current attempts to roll out Obamacare are frankly a fiasco.”
“These chaotic problems are symbolic of how, from the first, this law was foisted on the American people in a rushed and arbitrary way that ignored the careful and considered process laid down in the Constitution. The Constitution’s requirement that new taxes must start in the House is not a dusty formality. It’s an important safeguard for taxpayers, and for care and deliberation in the enactment of new taxes. Because this mandate was violated so flagrantly with Obamacare, and because the individual mandate is so central to Obamacare’s structure, our suit argues that the entire law must be struck down.”
The case is on behalf of Matt Sissel, a 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 penalty tax.
“I’m in this case to defend freedom and the Constitution,” said Sissel. “I am grateful for support from members of the House in this important litigation. 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 that Obamacare was enacted in violation of the constitutional roadmap for enacting taxes, because those procedures are there for a purpose – to protect our freedom.”
Beard said then that the Supreme Court was not asked about, and did not address, Obamacare’s constitutional failure.
“The question of whether the Constitution was obeyed needs to be litigated, and PLF is determined to see this important issue all the way through the courts,” he said.
Sissel’s case was filed before the Supreme Court ruled last year that Obamacare was constitutional because the individual mandate was a tax.
The plaintiffs in the original Supreme Court case alleged that a mandate to buy insurance was a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and the Supreme Court agreed. But Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion simply changed the “penalty” as it was enacted by Congress to a “tax” and deemed it constitutional for that reason.
His logic was that while Congress did not have the power to require citizens to buy insurance, it could require them to pay a tax.
That, however, raised the issue of the origination clause.
The members of the House noted how the American public held House members responsible for the Obamacare taxes.
“In 2010 the party that did not cast a single vote in the House in favor of the ACA in 2009 gained the largest seat change for a midterm election since 1938. The entire House was up for reelection. The Senate, by contrast, enjoyed having two-thirds of its members insulated from popular accountability for the measures they had passed.”
They continued: “Since the 2010 elections, the people’s immediate representatives have voted some 40 times to repeal or defund the ACA, but the senators, who sit for six years unchallenged, have never agreed. The Framers exact fear of taxation without adequate representation has materialized due to the complete disregard of the mandates of the Origination Clause by the U.S. Senate.
A House resolution adopted this year confirmed that “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 did not originate in the House of Representatives.”