A challenge filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation contends that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because the bill originated in the Senate, not the House. Under the Origination Clause of the Constitution, all bills raising revenue must begin in the House.
The Supreme Court upheld most provisions of the act in June, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took pains in the majority opinion to define Obamacare as a federal tax, not a mandate. That was when the Sacramento, Calif.-based foundation’s attorneys had their “aha” moment.
“The court there quite explicitly says, ‘This is not a law passed under the Commerce Clause; this is just a tax,’” foundation attorney Timothy Sandefur said at a Cato Institute forum on legal challenges to the health care act. “Well, then the Origination Clause ought to apply. The courts should not be out there carving in new exceptions to the Origination Clause.”
Legal opinion on the matter is split. Randy Barnett, a Georgetown University Law Center professor, said in an article for the Volokh Conspiracy that, “If any act violates the Origination Clause, it would seem to be the Affordable Care Act.”
Could Obamacare Be Wiped Out Completely on a Technicality?
It’s been three years since Congress rammed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act down our throats, and the legislation remains wildly unpopular. According to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll last month, nearly two-thirds of Americans still have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare.
The law made its way through the court system, with the Supreme Court eventually upholding it as constitutional last June, on the grounds that it was a tax, and not a mandate. In other words, it was decided that the government isn’t forcing Americans to buy a product they may or may not want — it is just taxing them if they don’t.
There have been several challenges to Obamacare since, mostly around the birth control issue, as religious employers want exemption from having to provide birth control to their employees when it goes against their convictions.
Now there’s a lawsuit that might overturn Obamacare in its entirety. The Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the law under the Origination Clause of the Constitution.