House Republicans back new constitutional challenge to ObamaCare

Forty House Republicans filed a brief last week in support of a legal challenge against ObamaCare that argues the law imposes billions of dollars in new taxes but did not originate in the House, as tax bills must under the Constitution.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) spearheaded the effort by filing a "friend of the court" brief on Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. That brief argued that ObamaCare violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution, which holds that all bills for raising revenue "shall originate in the House."

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The brief recounted how ObamaCare was ultimately passed — the Senate took an unrelated bill that gave tax breaks to certain veterans and added what ultimately became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

"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 GOP brief said.

"In every plain English language sense of the word both today and in 1789, ACA 'originated' in the Senate," it added.

The brief said the Origination Clause was an important principle in the Constitution that was designed to ensure representatives of American citizens make tax decisions. It also said the Constitution makes it clear that the power to tax lies with the House.

"The Origination Clause was a key Constitutional provision upon which the Founders insisted to protect the American people from confiscatory taxes; they reposed such power to initiate any taxes in the 'People's House' to be exercised by those representatives closest to the citizens," Republicans wrote.

"The Origination Clause thus serves an important bulwark to protect the liberty of our citizens. If the interpretation of the Origination Clause by the court below is not reversed, that Clause will be rendered a dead letter."

The case is Sissel v United States Department of Health and Human Services. It was brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) on behalf of Matthew Sissel, a small-business owner.

A district court has already dismissed the case, but that led the PLF to file an appeal over the summer. Oral arguments in the case are likely next year. 

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