Government & Politics

ObamaCare Lawsuit Brings Hope

A suit challenging an epic constitutional abuse of power can go forward.

Lewis Morris · Sep. 15, 2015

Last week’s ruling by Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer that the U.S. House of Representatives does indeed have standing to sue the Obama administration over ObamaCare could have wide-ranging implications for the law. At the very least, Collyer’s ruling allows a suit to go forward that challenges an epic constitutional abuse of power.

It’s been said on many occasions, including on these pages, that each legal challenge to ObamaCare could be its undoing. There have been wins, and there have been losses. Unfortunately, there have been major losses thanks to two Supreme Court decisions rewriting the law in order to uphold it. But this is different.

The House lawsuit filed in July 2014 accused the Obama administration of overstepping its constitutional authority by making unilateral changes to the law, specifically funding subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket expenses to low-income insurance customers with money that was not appropriated by Congress. The House insists Obama violated Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations Made by Law.”

The Obama administration has been playing fast and loose with the so-called Affordable Care Act since it was passed by a pure party line Democrat vote in 2010. The law was so shoddy and full of holes and free of logic that the only way to make it work was to constantly prop it up through arbitrary last-minute changes to the law and blatant disregard for constitutional due process by diktat. The House lawsuit was an attempt to stop this behavior.

The Wall Street Journal explains the reasoning:

“The separation of powers — at the federal level, and between the feds and states — is designed to protect accountability and individual liberty. James Madison intended for these powers to be in tension, and for the political branches to compete to defend their own prerogatives and maintain the right balance of legislative and executive control.

This ordinary political rough and tumble is the better way to resolve separation-of-powers disputes in most cases, as it has for most of America’s 239 years. But part of the argument for congressional standing is Mr. Obama’s flagrant contempt for Congress and regular political order. Congress can’t exercise its power of the purse when Mr. Obama is infringing on the power of the purse itself.”

When the House filed suit against ObamaCare, the Leftmedia immediately labeled it as political theater, and the law’s statist supporters did the same. At the time, even we doubted the lawsuit would truly rectify anything, writing, “[T]he lawsuit is an unprecedented, narrow and possibly doomed-to-fail effort by the minority party to slow the train of repeated injuries and usurpations of a power-hungry administration. A decision could take months if not years, and it may not have the desired effect.”

The win last week, though, provides some hope that reining in a lawless executive isn’t an impossible task after all.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner won’t rule out suing Obama over the Iran deal, too. “If you read the provisions in [the congressional review law], it’s pretty clear that the president has not complied,” Boehner said. “Because it makes clear that any side agreements and any other type of an agreement — including those that do not directly involve us — must be turned over as part of it. I do not believe that he’s complied.” The ObamaCare win may embolden Boehner.

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