Right Hooks

Court: House Can Sue HHS Over ObamaCare

This case could be one for the history books.

Dan Gilmore · Sep. 10, 2015
John Boehner stands with a tower of ObamaCare regulations

Remember that time last year when Congress took up Barack Obama’s offer to sue him? And when Congress filed the suit alleging the executive branch violated the separation of powers when it implemented ObamaCare, we, like many observers of government, thought it was another day of political gamesmanship. It’s a “possibly doomed-to-fail effort,” we wrote. However, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday that the House can proceed in its suit against the Department of Health and Human Services. At issue is Congress’ power of the purse, as enumerated in Article I of the Constitution. In rolling out ObamaCare, HHS spent money in ways that were not specified by Congress. “The House sues, as an institutional plaintiff, to preserve its power of the purse and to maintain constitutional equilibrium between the Executive and the Legislature,” wrote Judge Rosemary Collyer. “If its non-appropriation claims have merit, which the Secretaries deny, the House has been injured in a concrete and particular way that is traceable to the Secretaries and remediable in court.” As The Wall Street Journal editorial board opines, this case could be one for the history books. If the courts rule in favor of Congress, it could be the moment when the executive branch was put in its place. And to think this came about under House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership.

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