Sermeno: Can the Legislative Roots of Obamacare Overturn the Law?

WASHINGTON – The legal battle over the Affordable Care Act continues, as a challenge to the healthcare reform law aims to nullify it by arguing that any taxes imposed by the law originated in the wrong place.

Sissel v. United States Department of Health and Human Services was filed in the Washington D.C. District Federal Court – a traditional stepping-stone to the U.S. Supreme Court – by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) on behalf of Matt Sissel, an Iowa artist and small-business owner. Sissel, an Iraq war veteran, does not have or want health insurance, preferring to use the money to invest in his business.

The District Federal Court ruled against Sissel in June 2013. A few weeks later, the PLF appealed the court’s decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This month, Timothy Sandefur, co-counsel for PLF, argued before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the ACA was not enacted in compliance with constitutional procedures for raising taxes. That means, according to Sandefur, that the entire law was adopted unconstitutionally and should be canceled.

The Origination Clause of the Constitution, Article I, Section 7, requires that legislation to raise revenue must start in the House. This clause was put in to ensure that taxing power remained in the political body more sensitive to public opinion.


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